“National Night Out Against Crime” in Cambria Heights, N.Y. had all the trappings of a play land mirroring tranquility. The bitterness of Ukraine or discussions of a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip were replaced by escalated calm and waves of felicity with the benefit of local New York Police Department precincts serving the community in every capacity, as grand host.
The annual national event showcases collective peace, empowerment and community building among individuals, groups and community precincts. On this evening of harmony supplanted, New York’s finest interacted with a wall of local exhibitors each year such as: Queens Library, the Kiwanis Club of Cambria Heights, the Club Scouts and The Federated Blocks of Laurelton. Without an entourage or security force, local leaders such as State Senate candidate Leroy Comrie, Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, State Committee candidate Dorita Clarke, Assemblyman William Scarborough and former Comptroller John Liu – also a candidate for State Senate in Bayside, Queens – welcomed the opportunity to interact with the contingent of familiar faces.
This moving evening of gratitude was displayed in each corner of the Cambria Heights park magically converted into a festival of utopia with many sweets and foods along stretches of gratuitous activities for children and adults to exercise their athletic skills and to explore new game territory, as they remained in they home turf.
With a diverse array of music and activities available, community observers defined the free and open-to-the-public interaction, as carousing fun. Visually sumptuousness and drawing immediate recognition were barbers delivering first-come first-served free-and-easy barber accommodation. The desire to give back to a community drew professional barber and businessman Donovan Goodridge of New York All City Hair Cutter and his coworker, Ty, to the decade-old outdoors community celebration.
“When you get, you give back,” replied Goodridge, indicating he was quoting the late renowned poet Maya Angelou when asked why he decided to provide community service. “What I am seeing is a lot of people coming together,” said the Jamaican and Guyanese life-time resident of Queens with a barbershop in Queens Village at 216-05 Jamaica Ave. “There is unity in people coming together; unity is the best way,” added the Queens-raised entrepreneur, after performing a much satisfying hair cut.
Dorita Clarke, executive director of the 19-year-old college-leadership based organization, “You Can Go to College” housed in the Cambria Heights First Faith Church saluted “National Night Out Against Crime” as an important collaboration between organizations and the community. “It gives children a scope of who, where and the people exist in their community and not everyone is bad in their community. This is a clear cut example that not all officers have a bad disposition,” said Clarke. Stepping into the depth and richness of her campaign theme “Care for the Community,” Clarke expressed the enticing possibilities of the evening’s gathering. “There are a lot of youth and adults here today. I feel a more educated youth is less likely to commit crimes because of studies and working toward a goal.”
For the time, at least, the intensity of community and the police radiated and sparkled with hope in Cambria Heights. Therefore, the prior New York state financial leader John Liu assessment about this area of Queens, in an interview, was accurate that “‘National Night Out Against Crime’ is the one night this community comes out across the city to say this city belongs to you.”