By Jennifer L. Warren
POUGHKEEPSIE – The sound of thunder might have shortened last Tuesday’s National Night Out event in the City of Poughkeepsie, but it certainly did not stop a large crowd from enjoying themselves at this popular, annual community gathering.
Before the lightening in the skies and rain struck, people could be spotted outside on the grounds of the City of Poughkeepsie’s City Hall immersed in an assortment of activities, aimed at bonding the police, emergency and other organizations with the community. The event, celebrated all over the country on the same date, August 6 this year, featured a petting zoo, bouncy house, face painting, K9 demonstrations, book give-away, as well as complimentary food- hot dogs, popcorn, cotton candy and slushies. It further allowed for critical, in-person interaction between police, emergency responders, and other community organizations with people from the City of Poughkeespie.
“This event really brings people in the community together with the police department as well as other organizations-partners in the City,” said Karen Zirbel, a Patrol Officer as well as Community Policing School Resource Officer for the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department. “It’s just really nice to see everyone coming together, and it gives kids a chance to see our equipment and interact with our Department in a positive manner.”
Not only could area youth be seen chatting with police officers, asking them questions and checking out the various equipment they use on the job, but they also had the opportunity to get free, donated books. In an attempt to promote literacy, The Junior League of Poughkeepsie, an organization of women who contribute to their community in a host of altruistic ways, were on hand with an impressive amount of books to hand out to children.
“This was a great event tonight, said Mallory Maggiacomo of the Junior League of Poughkeepsie. “The kids and the parents really enjoyed themselves, and everyone just seemed so excited to be out here having a good time.”
Unfortunately, the entertaining venue was an abbreviated one. About halfway through, at 6:30, sounds of loud thunder, prompted vendors to have to pack up earlier than the scheduled 8pm end time. The over 80 booths, including ones representing mental health, youth and domestic violence organizations, offering their services, had to make a quick departure before the onset of the rain. Despite the event’s unplanned early ending, it was a huge success on multiple levels.
“The police and the community really came together to meet and greet one another tonight in a positive way,” said Tom Pape, Chief of Police of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, who was surrounded by a large population of his Department, participating in a hands-on manner, Tuesday night outside of City Hall.
“I like how we get a lot of the community members to come out here for an event like this one,” said Pape. “Everyone just has such a good time and really enjoys interacting with so many different people.”