Sponsored by the Long Branch Police, National Night Out began years ago as an annual campaign to promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. The event started out in Slocum Park on Broadway offering free food, giveaways and large city trucks you could see up close and even sit in, and of course, the K9 demonstration led by Sergeant Robert Shamrock
This year the celebration was larger than usual, still utilizing all of Slocum Park next to the Long Branch Library, and spilling across the street into the empty lot filled with rides and games. That section of Broadway was blocked off to traffic making it easy for families to roam around and experience the night’s activities safely.
Slocum Park was lined with tables representing different organizations handing out free gifts and advice, some spiritual some practical. Kids were fitted for bicycle helmets and had the opportunity to sign up for the Girl or Boy Scouts.
The turnout was larger than ever, with the line to spin the prize wheel sometimes snaking around the block. There was a prize for every spin graciously donated by businesses in the community.
There was plenty of pizza, snacks, beverages and desserts, but new on the menu this year was a pulled-pork cooking contest between Long Branch Police and Firemen.
Police handed out pulled-pork street tacos topped with pineapple chunks, cilantro, onions and a squeeze of lime layered on a corn tortilla. For the firemen it was all pork piled on a fresh roll.
After the votes were counted bragging rights went to Long Branch Professional Firefighters, though the challenge is still on for next year. Not sure what their choice of food will be, but be sure it will be delicious!