New Windsor residents enjoyed a night of free hotdogs and hamburgers, music, t-shirts for children, kickball, tug of war and opportunities to meet officers and other first responders during the town’s first annual National Night Out at Kristi Babcock Memorial Park.
This inaugural event, which took place on Tuesday, August 2, was co-chaired by Councilwoman Eve Lincoln and New Windsor Police Chief Robert Doss through the support of the town board and additional departments.
The purpose of the National Night Out event is to provide community members the opportunity to interact with their local police officers in a fun and safe environment and learn more about the daily life and work of policing. The first National Night Out event was held in August of 1984, 38 years ago.
Earlier in the day, Senator James Skoufis, who was a sponsor and supporter of the town’s National Night Out event, joined Supervisor George Meyers, Chief Doss and several other police chiefs for a press event and thanked them for the work they do in their communities.
Skoufis was able to acquire $50,000 in funding that was distributed amongst the police departments of New Windsor, Town of Wallkill, City of Middletown, Town of Mount Hope, Town of Warwick, Village of Highland Falls, Port Jervis and Crawford.
“He’s [Skoufis] very supportive of what we do here in New Windsor. He’s particularly very supportive of the police,” Meyers said. “I, personally on behalf of my department, appreciate what he’s always done for the police and look forward to him continuing to do that for many, many years.”
Though a slight rain shower started off the evening, families made their way to the park and were ready to enjoy the festivities. The National Night Out event featured New Windsor Police Department [NWPD] officers, vehicles, several motorcycles and bicycles. During the course of the afternoon, there were several department canine demonstrations for the families to enjoy.
“I’m just overwhelmed and blown away. This [National Night Out celebration] makes me feel like I’m the luckiest chief probably in the state,” Doss said. “The New Windsor Police Department is very lucky to have a community that we have that supports us, that backs us and you know we [NWPD] feel the same about the community. We’re here for them.”
There was a LifeNet of New York Medical Helicopter, a New York State Police [NYSP] armored vehicle, and a NYSP Mounted Trooper on horseback; members of the Vails Gate Fire Department, New Windsor Fire Department and New Windsor Ambulance Corps also joined in on the festivities.
“We could not be more pleased with the turnout of our first annual National Night Out. I can just only imagine where we’ll go from here, it’s going to be bigger and better every year,” Lincoln said. “I think that officers and all the first responders are loving that they’re engaging with the kids and the families on a positive note. I just see a lot of great relationships being built.”
Representatives from the Orange County Department of Health, Fearless!, Hope Not Handcuffs and the Mental Health Association of Orange County also had information available for families to take and learn about what their offices do. In addition to all the food and activities, there were two Trek brand kids bicycles, donated by Verla International, that were raffled off. Verla International is currently based in New Windsor.
Skoufis also made a special guest appearance and shared several words for the community members gathered. “I just want to say congratulations to the community, to the town board including Supervisor George Meyers and the police department,” Skoufis said. “I was happy to help support this event and look forward to supporting every event in years to come.”
Assemblyman Colin Schmitt made a guest appearance at National Night Out and spoke with several community members during the course of the evening. “It’s great to see so many from the community,” Schmitt said. “I think what’s important about this [National Night Out] it brings the community together, it shows the great work of our local law enforcement, shows that the local law enforcement supports our community and our community backs our law enforcement and we can all come together as one community.”
Parents Ivette Duran and Rosanny Rodriguez, who watched their children play tug of war and inspect the ambulances, shared their thoughts on the first National Night Out here in New Windsor.
“I love it. Our kids are having a fun time,” Duran said. “I would love to see more of this throughout the year. Everyone is socializing, which is nice to see again.”
“The kids see other kids that they know from the community so it’s also nice to bump into familiar faces,” Rodriguez said.“I am also looking forward to more of these, post-COVID.”