The Herkimer Police Department’s Police Benevolent Association and Herkimer Central School District’s Parent Teacher Association teamed up to bring the community together on Tuesday, Aug. 1, for the National Night Out at Harmon Field in Herkimer.
The National Night Out was started as a way to bring police departments and communities together to form a stronger bond, Herkimer Police Department Sgt. James Burns said.
“This helps build police legitimacy within the community and creates safer neighborhoods for everyone,” Burns said. “The outpouring of support from businesses and community members was unbelievable. Together, we were able to give away over 300 backpacks and 100 lunch boxes. That’s was this was all about, coming together.”
National Night Out activities included a backpack giveaway for Herkimer students, a dunk booth, a helicopter landing, a bike rodeo, responder kickball with kids, showcases by the Mohawk Valley Diamond Dawgs baseball team and the Herkimer Originals basketball team, music by Anthony LaBarbera and the Fast IV, face painting, bracelet making, bounce houses, a fire department beach ball drop, a glow-stick giveaway, a first responder hour, an outdoor movie and more.
In addition to the backpacks and lunch boxes, several bicycles were given away, along with free Stewart’s ice cream and free youth haircuts. Food trucks also were on site for the purchase of food, drinks and ice cream.
Two husband-wife duos were integral in organizing this event between the police department’s Police Benevolent Association (PBA) and school district’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA). One duo was Herkimer Police Department Sgt. James Burns and Herkimer teacher and PTA liaison Victoria Burns. The other was Herkimer Police Chief Mike Jory and recently retired Herkimer teacher Cheryl Jory.
“I grew up in Herkimer and so did several officers working with our department, so when the idea for this event was brought to the PBA, there was a lot of excitement,” James Burns said. “We really wanted to give back to the community and felt the best way to do that was partner with the PTA. I remember back when I was a student at Herkimer, all the fun I had trying to sink our teachers and coaches in the dunk tank.”
Victoria Burns said organizers enjoyed bringing the National Night Out event to the community.
“It gives families a safe space to come and enjoy activities that are otherwise lacking in our area,” Victoria Burns said. “Also, Cheryl and I really wanted to look at a need in our community outside of just your typical school supply giveaway. As a teacher, I know we are sometimes giving away backpacks on a monthly basis at school for our students in significant need. Being able to do the backpack giveaway for all students was amazing, and we received a lot of support from not only our community members but also our teachers stepped up and helped as well.”
Organizers are looking forward to bringing the event back in 2024.
“As a community member, a mom of students, a teacher and now PTA liaison, it was important to be part of something that everyone could come and enjoy and benefit from,” Victoria Burns said. “We can’t wait until next year and are already talking about our new ideas to add to the fun.”
Herkimer community members interact with the Herkimer Police Department during the National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at Harmon Field in Herkimer.
Herkimer community members check out a helicopter that landed as part of the National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at Harmon Field in Herkimer.
Herkimer community members prepare for a fire department beach ball drop during the National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 1, at Harmon Field in Herkimer.
View more photos on our Facebook page. Thank you to the Herkimer Police Benevolent Association for the photos!