But "Safe Kids Day" has evolved into a town-wide fair, complete with games, rides, free food and fun. Boulevard East is totally shut down to traffic, and thousands of residents roam the street freely and enjoy the company of their neighbors.
"It started out in just one schoolyard and now stretches for four full blocks on Boulevard East," Guttenberg Mayor David Delle Donna said. "I think we've gone as far as we can go with it, unless West New York allows us to use their streets."
The event was pushed up a few weeks this year, from mid-October to mid-September, to take advantage of better weather.
"We were having some problems with the weather in past years, so we moved it up," Delle Donna said.
More than 6,000 of Guttenberg's 11,000 residents attended the festivities.
4,500 free dinners
They were treated to 4,500 chicken and hamburger dinners, prepared by Outback Restaurant in Edgewater, as well as more than 4,000 hot dogs that were prepared by town volunteers.
Antonio's Pizza and Ceasar's Pizzeria in Guttenberg prepared 450 pies that were distributed. Bennie's Wine and Liquors provided the soda and water. Popcorn and cotton candy machines were also brought in to deliver the treats to the kids, all at no cost.
It was also a collective effort from many of the town's businesses and organizations. Some donated money to help the cause. Others donated their services or paid for amusements such as clowns and face painters.
"In all, we had about 14 different businesses from the town that stepped forward and helped in a big way," said event organizer Tony Casper, a member of the North Hudson Regional Fire & Rescue who also doubles as the town's fire official. "Every year, the event gets bigger and each year, we need more help."
Of course, the theme was safety and that theme was prevalent. The NHRFR brought its smoke trailer that is designed to teach youngsters how to leave a burning building. There was also a demonstration how the "Jaws of Life" can extricate someone from a damaged car. The car used in the demonstration was donated by High Point Auto Garage. The North Hudson Community Action Corporation did an assortment of health screenings and tests, free of charge.
"It was still an informational day, but it was also a lot of fun for the kids," Casper said. "Everyone had a great time. It really did go a long way to promote community togetherness, and that was very important."
Casper used to run the event when it was a small affair in a schoolyard. Now, under Delle Donna's administration, it has become a big-time event, with Casper still pulling all the right strings.
"Although it is designed to promote safety, it really is a nice time for the entire town to get together," Delle Donna said. "We had gone away from having these kinds of events, but I think it's important because there are a lot of people who live in the town who don't even know each other the way they used to, even though we have a small town. An event like this brings everyone together."
There were also rides for the children, like two rock-climbing walls, and an inflatable trampoline, for the kids to jump and play in it.
Casper thanked a lot of people for help in coordinating the event, like Linda Martin and Joanne Martin of Town Hall, as well as Delle Donna and the Town Council.
Linda Martin, who is the town clerk, was pleased with the turnout, especially the volunteers.
"It is rewarding to see the entire town come out like that," Linda Martin said. "Every year, we get more and more people who want to volunteer to help. It really is a nice way to get the community together and it's all for the kids. The rides, the clowns, the face painting, it really was great. The whole community really comes together."
However, the area was drenched with heavy rains last Friday and the organizers were worried at first that they would have to postpone the event until the rain date on Sunday.
"The event takes several months of planning," said Casper. "I live in Brick and when I was driving up at 6 a.m., I started hitting some heavy rain. I was really worried."
"When I went to bed Friday night, I thought we were going to have to cancel," Linda Martin said. "But when I woke up, the sun was shining bright. It was a great day."
Casper also thanked the Hudson County Department of Parks for bringing a portable stage to be used. NHRFR Chief Brion McEldowney was also a huge assistance in coordinating the manpower efforts of the Fire Department.
"The kids are learning, but they're also having a good time," Casper said.
"I'm very proud of this event," Delle Donna said. "We're able to mix fun with teaching."