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Jersey City News

Hudson Celebrates National Night Out

By LYSA CHEN, JERSEY JOURNAL STAFF WRITER

Hudson County residents, city and state officials, and law enforcement agencies came together last night to send all thugs and evil-doers one message:

"Tonight is not the night," said Harrison Police Chief Derek Kearns as he celebrated the 25th annual National Night Out, a crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

The campaign originally asked citizens to leave their porch lights on as a stand against street crimes but has since evolved into larger-scale celebrations with free food, music, games and giveaways across the nation, including several in Hudson County.

But most importantly, the events bring together neighborhoods and their police, said Gov. Jon Corzine, who visited the Union City festivities.

"It's important for the communities to support our law enforcement," Corzine said. "We're looking after our own neighborhoods, our own communities, and we have to stand together against crime."

Kearns said Harrison's National Night Out celebration gives cops a chance to interact with the residents, hear their concerns and remind them that it is important to contact police.

"We let them know they're not bothering us," Kearns said. "We need to know what's going on to address concerns."

In Union City, families toting children with their faces painted like tigers and butterflies stopped to chat with police officers as they kept an eye on the crowded festivities along New York Avenue from 22nd to 29th streets.

Jersey City police cooked and handed out free hot dogs and small toys to children and families at Pershing Field, the location of one of the city's four events.

Anna Rose Smith of Jersey City said the celebration was all about "togetherness."

"It's one of the greatest things they can do," Smith said. "There are plenty of things for the kids. It's family-oriented."

She pointed to the steps of the Heights Vietnam Veterans Memorial Community Center, where uniformed officers were surrounded by eager children as they gave away blue and white balloons.

"I love these guys," Smith said. "They put their lives on the line for us every single day."

The National Night Out celebrations drew more than 1,000 people each in Audubon and Arlington parks, Jersey City Police Lt. Edgar Martinez said last night.

"It's more like a festive block party this year, where everyone seems like family," Martinez said.

National Night Out celebrations were also held in Bayonne, East Newark, Kearny, North Bergen and West New York.