A child’s best friend
‘Safe Kids Day’ celebrates kid-police relationship
by Joseph Passantino
Reporter staff writer
Sep 22, 2013 | 7839 views | 0 0 comments | 86 86 recommendations | email to a friend | print
SUGAR RUSH – The cotton candy is almost bigger Daniella Garcia (right) and her little sister, Arriana.
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Guttenberg threw a party on Sept. 15, and a couple hundred children showed up.

But this wasn’t just any party. It was “Safe Kids Day,” one which strives to bring together the town’s children with the police and other emergency personnel in a friendly, fun, trusting atmosphere.

It is hoped bridges will be formed with the children during events like this, and they will learn the right things to do while growing up into adulthood, according to township officials.

Several initiatives

Mayor Gerald Drasheff said Safe Kids Day is one of the several Guttenberg initiatives that align children of all ages with the police department. Among the others are the Junior Police Academy and Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) program.

“They get to see the cops in a different vein,” Drasheff said. “We’re teaching them to come to the police officers.

“They don’t see the cop as an enemy. They instead see them as someone to come to for help,” the mayor said. “It’s a very positive thing. They see the police around town all the time, but now they see them at the dunk booth too.”
“To be safe is an important message.” – Perla Grana
To that end, the Guttenberg Police Department, GPD DARE program, the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue, and Anna L. Klein School all participated in the special event.

Council members

“This is a great event for the kids,” said Councilwoman Monica Fundora. “We do it every year, and it gets better and better.”

Drasheff and all Town Council members participated in Safe Kids Day festivities. The others attending were Al Caso, Donna Florio, John Habermann, and Efrain Velez.

Rides, attractions, and fun

Rides and attractions included rock climbing, several bounce and slides, and baseball, football, basketball, and soccer throw or kick booths.

Samantha Koppelman of Guttenberg was there with son Max, 4, and both were having a blast.

“We’re seeing our friends, learning about safety, and enjoying these rides,” she said.

John Linares, 54, of 68th Street wasn’t much farther away. He was enjoying the fair with grandson, Sebastian, 6, who was on the Adrenalin Rush 3 bounce and slide.

“He keeps going back and forth, back and forth,” Linares laughed. “It’s his favorite thing. We’ll stay until he gets tired.”

Teenagers understand

Perla Grana, 15, was there with friends Maria Vizcaino, 14, and Alex Rodriguez, 17, enjoying pizza and cotton candy. Rock climbing was next on their list.

“We’re here to have fun, just to walk around and get out,” Grana said. “The [younger] kids get to go out and have fun.”

But Grana noted that the seriousness of the occasion was not to be lost either.

“To be safe is an important message,” she said.

Participating organizations

Organizations supporting the event were the North Hudson Community Action Corporation, the American Red Cross (Bergen-Hudson Chapter), the Child Advocacy Resource Association, Women Rising, the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Department of Children and Families, Division of Youth & Family Services.

Nikita’s Salon performed free face painting for children and the Green Kitchen donated the profit from its cookie table to the town recreation program.

Keeping them filled

Vendors selling their foods included Antonio’s Restaurant & Pizzeria, Cavalino’s Bar-Restaurant, Galaxy Pizza Pub, Good Eats, Lotus Thai Cuisine, and Sweetly Unexpected Bake Shop.

Joseph Passantino may be reached at JoePass@hudsonreporter.com.

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