BURLINGTON CITY — It’s not every day that residents can enjoy a soft pretzel with their local police and fire departments, but on National Night Out, it’s a welcome tradition.
Burlington City was one of many towns in the county on Tuesday to participate in National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign to bring together local police departments and the neighborhoods they serve. Police partner with towns to offer a night of family fun, often including food, games, music, K-9 demonstrations, parades and fireworks.
This year marked the city’s 10th year hosting National Night Out along the Riverfront Promenade by the Delaware River. Parents got to know police officers, learned about community clubs and checked out classic cars, while children enjoyed climbing into fire engines, trying on bunker gear and collecting free toys and books.
National Night Out gives officers and responders the opportunity to connect with the community in a setting outside of traffic tickets or emergencies, Officer Robert Perro said.
“We want the community to know we’re here and we care about them,” he said. “We want them to know all of the types of resources available.”
Detective Sgt. David Kohler, who supervises the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office’s Crime Scene Unit, agreed the community events help the public see the people behind the badges.
“Some people have a stigma toward law enforcement, and what we’re doing is letting people know that we’re here to help,” he said.
Thirteen-year-old Dominic Blaise Lonia hopes to wear a badge of his own one day as a police officer. He loved getting to talk with officers and see what their jobs are like.
“Mostly I want to help people,” he said.
His mother, Brie, thought it would be fun to stop by National Night Out for Dominic to meet officers and get to know the family’s new neighborhood.
“We just moved here and it’s already such a welcoming community,” she said.
As the sun set on the Delaware River and soft music played, the atmosphere was light and cheerful for visitors. And it’s always a can’t-miss event for resident Karina Supersad; she filled up a bag with knickknacks such as pens, frisbees and lollipops with a smile on her face.
“We come out every year. We like it,” she said. “It gives the community a chance to interact.”
National Night Out events were also held in Bordentown Township, Burlington Township, Cinnaminson, Evesham, Lumberton, Medford, Maple Shade, Palmyra, Pemberton Township, Westampton and Willingboro.
Assemblyman Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, came out to Burlington City’s event to support the local police and responders.
“It’s always important for folks to get out and meet their local officers,” he said. “And this is a low-key event for those in public safety to meet the men and women they serve."