Hell's Kitchen Celebrates National Night Out
The festivities, held at Hell's Kitchen Park, drew more than 100 residents who also enjoyed pizza, face painting and running through the park’s small fountain under the summer sun.
"The community's here. It's amazing," said Hell’s Kitchen resident Leticia Ramires, 39, who stopped by the park with her kids, Isabella, six, Kayla, five, and nine-month-old Edgar for the occasion.
The annual nation-wide event, which was celebrated by precincts across the city, is designed to give residents a chance to mingle with law enforcement officers in a relaxed and open setting.
Officer Daniel Hagan, 30, was among the officers filling in for Commanding Officer Timothy Beaudette, who was unable to attend.
"It's a beautiful event. It's really great that the community can come together like this," he said.
He said his favorite part was meeting new people who live in the close-knit neighborhood.
"I've been here for four-and-a-half years and I'm meeting residents I've never even met before," he said. "It's nice. Everyone's from different places and different cultures."
Precinct Community Council President Larry Roberts said this is the fourth year the precinct has held the event, which his kids are always excited to attend.
"It's just a fabulous thing for the community," he said. "The kids all look forward to it every year. It's just a tremendous thing for them to interact with the cops."
Others came to share the evening’s message.
Local resident Joanna Spencer said she returned with her daughter, Katie MacAaron, four, this year "to band together [with her neighbors] and know this is one safe night for the community” — as well as to enjoy the free food.
"It's a very good idea," agreed dad David Heffernan, 49, whose three-year-old daughter, Nora Jane, played happily on a swing. "I think you need to use public spaces so it's not taken over by the wrong-ins,” he said.
Still, he said despite the fun, another group of men and women in uniform remain the apple of his daughter's eye.
"She likes the firefighters more," he said.