With nostalgia rock band Head Over Heels playing hits from earlier decades, Ridgeites gathered in Shore Road Park at 79th Street on Tuesday, August 1 to celebrate the ties between cops and community during the annual Night Out festivities that are always a big deal — and a big draw — for residents in the 68th Precinct.
The event, held each year on the first Tuesday in August in communities across America, began in 1984, under the auspices of the National Association of Town Watch, and has grown year by year.
In the 68th Precinct, it generally draws crowds in the thousands, there to enjoy free food, kids’ activities, giveaways and music, as well as the opportunity to mingle with the men and women in blue who patrol their streets every day, and show appreciation for their efforts.
“It’s a great evening, a great turnout,” said Captain Joseph Hayward, the precinct’s commanding officer. “I know I’m the face of the precinct,” he added, “But the men and women who work in the precinct are out there every night locking up the worst of the worst. They’re awesome.”
This year, on top of a slew of informational tables from non-profit organizations and local businesses that sponsor the event, attendees also had the chance to get in on the latest local craze — Bay Ridge Rocks, started by a pair of mothers at P.S. 102 who wanted to enhance the sense of community, painting rocks and hiding them in random places.
Less than a year later, the movement’s Facebook page has some 2,000 followers, and the blankets — where paint and rocks were available to attendees as part of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Bay Ridge branch’s contribution to the evening — were filled with creative kids intent on burnishing their masterpieces.
The enterprise “creates community at a time that we desperately need community,” noted Teri Brennan. “It’s created an online community of many people who haven’t met in the real world but are sharing an experience. Then, there are also opportunities (such as Night Out) for them to connect in the real world. It is such a loving thing to do.”