By: Jan Engoren Contributing Writer
After a stormy summer day rained out the originally scheduled date for Delray’s 5th Annual National Night Out, the event went off with clear skies on Oct. 3.
Hosted by the Delray Police Department and the Delray Citizens for Delray Police, the annual event was created in 1984 with a mission to bring the community and law enforcement together to take a stand against crime.
This is the fifth year Delray Beach has participated in the family friendly, free event. This year, the festivities took place on the grounds of Old School Square.
“This is an effort to have the community come out and meet their first responders in a positive environment,” said Sgt. Gary Ferreri, a 13-year veteran with the city. “It’s a big block party. It’s a way for the public to learn about the services available to them in the community, and a way for the western communities to come out and connect with the communities on the east side of the city.”
It also provides a way for citizens to see their tax dollars at work— the police and fire department’s latest equipment is on full display. SWAT vehicles, a new fire apparatus and a command center were parked outside.
Over the past 36 years more than 38 million people have participated in 16 thousand communities, according to statistics provided by the national organization.
The Delray event was presented by Shiner’s Law Group, and sponsored by Caron Renaissance and Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza of 115 NE 6 Ave., which has participated in the event each year.
The company was dishing out chicken wings with caramelized onions, meatballs and slices of pizza.
General manager Francisco Cicco said giving back is part of the company’s core values.
“Being involved in our community is part of our corporate culture,” said Cicco, who notes that the company also sponsors local community group events by donating 20 percent of their proceeds to a group’s fundraising efforts.
The event is kid friendly and there were a variety of bounce houses with PAW Patrol characters – Chase the police dog and Marshall, the fire dog, fast pitch and field goal stations. Kids received backpacks with school supplies and coloring books with crayons.
The crowd danced to Pharrell Williams, “Happy,” and the classic R&B tune, “Hold On, I’m Coming.”
“This is a great opportunity to learn about our fire safety and police departments first-hand and in a relaxed, non-emergency setting,” Mayor Shelly Petrolia said as she mingled with the crowd.
Interim city manager, Nick DeJesus rode in to Old School Square on his candy apple red Harley Davidson Road Glide.
“This is a great opportunity for the police to engage with the community and show them what we do,” he said. “It’s a chance to bond with those we serve.”
A group of students from the criminal justice program at Atlantic High School turned out to support their city’s civil servants.
As did Patricia Scott, a nurse and the trauma outreach coordinator at Delray Beach Medical Center who was manning a booth sponsored by the hospital and dispensing coloring books and rubber bracelets meant to remind parents not to leave their baby in the backseat of the car.
“We’re here because we are part of the community,” she said.
Sitting on a bench and munching on Anthony’s chicken wings were retired Delray Beach residents Jean Ogborn and Marta Brown. Brown is a former volunteer with the DBPD and Ogborn volunteers her time once a week at the station greeting visitors. She also participates in her community’s COP (Citizen’s on Patrol) program at Highpoint 1-7.
“It’s very well organized,” said Brown about the event.
“And the food is good,” joked Ogborn.