By MADDY VITALE
When Maura Sheerin, 7, of Philadelphia, and her mom, Meghan, arrived at Sea Isle City’s National Night Out Tuesday, they had one very important stop to make — the Police Department tent, where plastic blue police hats and other goodies awaited them.
“I’m going to be the first female police commissioner,” Maura said with determination.
Then it was off to the bounce house.
“I think she has more police friends than adults do,” Meghan Sheerin joked.
The mom and daughter duo, in Sea Isle for a weeklong vacation with family, got another treat.
Police Chief Tom McQuillen learned that Maura wanted to be a law enforcement officer. McQuillen and Sgt. Misty Elgersma posed with the little girl in the photo book.
The Sheerins were joined by hundreds of people who came out for a night of family-friendly activities, live music, games and food — with one underlying message — police are your friends.
McQuillen said a few words about the significance of National Night Out.
“It’s a great night because we get to interact with people that we don’t see everyday, in a positive and relaxed atmosphere,” he said. “It lets the public see what we do.”
McQuillen noted the event would not be possible without all of the help from the area businesses that donate food and activities for the night.
“There is a uniqueness to Sea Isle. It is a special town,” he added.
During the event, 25 kids from Sea Isle and the surrounding area graduated from the first Police Camp, a new program in the city organized by Sgt. John Saltzman.
The campers and the police officers who acted as their camp counselors for the week took to the stage at the Excursion Park Band Shell, where Mayor Leonard Desiderio, McQuillen and Saltzman spoke of their achievements.
Officials said the camp created memories and relationships between police officers and the kids that will hopefully last a lifetime.
“What a great week. We want the children to know that police are our friends,” Desiderio said from the stage. “Police will always help you.”
Saltzman said the kids grew over the weeklong camp and by the end, he said, the officers learned as much — if not more — than the children.
Some other things that kept people having fun through the event included a dunk tank. For a small fee, kids got to toss a ball to dunk police officers to raise funds the mayor’s annual Holiday Toy & Food Drive.
An addition to National Night Out this year was a chance for kids to spray a real fire hose onto a wooden board with a depiction of home with flames shooting out the windows.
Colin Shelly, 7, of Paoli, Pa., had fun trying his hand at firefighting with a little help from firefighter Clarence Smith.
Kids excitedly jumped in and out of an array of emergency vehicles, including a fire engine, police cars and an ambulance, to peek inside.
Trey Snyder, 7, of Havertown, Pa., and his sister Ali, 6, hopped in a police car.
“They are loving this,” their mother, Megan Snyder said. “I like that they let the kids go in the police cars.”
After National Night Out festivities, the city hosted a free showing of the movie “Incredibles 2” at dusk in Excursion Park.
For more information about activities in Sea Isle City go to www.visitsicnj.com.