Cranford Police will host the 28th annual National Night Out event Tuesday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the gazebo on the corner of North Union and Springfield avenues.
The free nationwide event is designed to promote crime prevention awareness. Each year, residents gather in a central location where members of the police department are on hand to provide information about safety programs and conduct demonstrations. It also allows the public to interact with members of the police department and obtain information about the department's many programs.
This year, there will be displays of police vehicles, including a police car, zodiac boat, motorcycle and emergency service unit. A DJ, face painter, magician and balloon animal maker will be on hand as well.
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, the American Red Cross and Project Porchlight will be handing out literature and free giveaways to those who attend the event. Members of the Cranford PBA 52 will be handing out free Italian ices to all in attendance as well.
For the third year in a row, National Night Out will include a blood drive. This year, the drive, hosted by PBA Local 52, is being held in memory of Lakewood Police officer Christopher Matlosz, who was killed in the line of duty in January, while conducting a routine motor vehicle stop.
National Night Out has been held annually since 1984 and is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Initially, communities held vigils that involved turning on their porch lights as a demonstration of solidarity and to send a message to criminals that their presence would not be tolerated in local neighborhoods. Since its inception, however, the event has expanded to include community block parties, festivals and other events to help bring neighbors together.