Favorites from Community Night

The parking lot and pool at Community Park is always jam-packed the evening of Community Night Out. The pavement transforms into a fun field, and the pool, in addition to its usual diving boards and water slides, is joined by bouncy houses. A few-story-high rock wall towers over area residents as they filter in line for free hot dogs and cold waters. A firetruck gleams red under the dusky sun and the dunking tank keeps cops – the ones brave enough to get dunked in full uniform – cool no matter the temperature.

This year’s Community Night out was another success with many of the town’s families fluttering about, some in bathing suits and some just there for the tasty food. Local eateries set up tents for non-hot dog enthusiasts and Dom the Balloon man stood in a purple vest creating balloon animals and superheroes.

It’s hard to choose which part of the night is the best, but The Sun gave it a shot and asked attendees what their favorite Community Night Out activity was.

The Rophy family returned to the festivities for their first Community Night Out in several years.

“I love the rock wall,” said the middle son, Marty.

“I love the Dunk a Cop,” the eldest, Dave, said. “I just dunked one!”

Dave gave his mom, Jill, a high five.

“My favorite is just having a night out and having dinner here. It’s fun and mindless and it’s safe,” Jill said with a smile.

Mabel Brown, 4, and her family come to Community Night Out every year. For the first time this year, however, Mabel got to try the rock wall with the help of a trusty rock wall expert, Donny Albach, who strapped her in safely as her parents watched.

Meanwhile, Princeton First Aid and Rescue and firefighter volunteer David Kolet-Mandrikov was busy cranking up a fire hydrant.

“We’re just gonna get some water going here,” he said as water spouted out from the cap, through the hose which rested atop a ladder. “It’s a little more fun on a really hot summer day, but we’ll create a little shower and let the kids run around.”

Dillon Brennan, 6, raced ecstatically below in a blue and yellow t-shirt labeled “Princeton Police Department.”

“I love running through the water,” he said while catching his breath, completely drenched. “And I love cops!”

Dillon has everything police and hopes to one day be a police officer when he grows up.

Juliette King, a third grader at Princeton Charter School, swims at the pool every day.

“I love how they have so many fun things for kids to do – like the rock wall,” King said. “Oh my gosh, and the popcorn! I also like the bouncy house and the policeman’s dog show.”

About Erica Chayes Wida

Erica Chayes Wida is a writer, mom, and complete zealot when it comes to poetry, paella and globe collections. After graduating with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, Erica moved to Italy where the seasons and old architecture inspired her journey back to the East Coast. Since then, she and her husband have created a nest egg locally and, over time, developed a rather grand love affair with the town of Princeton. Erica is senior editor at The Princeton Sun and enjoys fulfilling her Princeton affections on a daily basis. | View all posts by Erica Chayes Wida