Families experienced a memorable surprise during Saratoga’s 3rd Annual Family Safety Day on July 11 when NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill and Queens Borough Fire Commander Ed Baggott stopped by for a few hours in the midst of the beautiful weather and family bonding time.

The annual event—a perfect blend of fun and education—features carnival food and games, the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau’s mobile rock-climbing wall, a dunk tank, a bouncy house obstacle course, an FDNY fire experience trailer, face painting and more.

Unique to Saratoga, the “block party”-type event was first developed by staff with a little help from partners like the NYPD and FDNY, who are dedicated to sparking a dialogue about fire safety, security, and community.

Informational booths on Saratoga’s afterschool, recreation, child care, and early education programs were also set up so families could learn more about these helpful resources.

Anthony Cesarano, Assistant Administrator for Security at Saratoga, said that “the clients and their children all had a great time.” He is thankful for how the staff “all chipped in to make the Safety Day a huge success.”

Jodi Daniels, Director of Early Childhood Education at Saratoga and Michael Serra, Administrative Assistant, deserve a special shout-out for taking turns sitting in the dunk tank as the kids had fun trying to hit the lever to drop them into the water below.

Fire safety and prevention was an especially ‘hot topic’ at Family Safety Day and young residents had the chance to learn important fire safety tips from the FDNY’s Fire Safety Education Unit.

The kids were especially eager to experience the FDNY’s Fire Safety Experience “Smoke House” trailer, which simulates a house fire and helps kids go through the motions of how to exit a house when there are hot doors and smoke.

Cesarano called the simulation “a great learning experience for the children.”

7-year-old Joshua learned the first steps of recognizing a fire: “When you hear the fire alarm come on and when you feel your door and it’s hot, then you should know there’s a fire.”

10-year-old Alenell also shared what he took away from the event: “You can’t play with matches.”

In the afternoon, Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill and Queens Borough Fire Commander Ed Baggott both stopped by Saratoga to join in the festivities.

They cheered on the kids climbing the rock-wall, taking the time to speak with families about themes like security, community, and fire safety.

Their visits topped off a perfect day of enjoyment and safety tips, making this year’s Safety Day unforgettable. The families appreciated their one-on-one conversations with NYPD and FDNY leadership and they continued to convey to staff and other residents the positive impact this event had on them and their children for weeks later.

Other popular attractions included McGruff the Police Crime Dog, who talked to kids about crime prevention, along with a game truck with a Nintendo Switch. 9-year-old Emma and 8-year-old Sophie had a great time playing Mario Kart, though both claimed that they came in first place.

Jova, a parent at Saratoga, expressed her gratitude and the importance of safety: “Thank you guys for this [Family Safety Day], it’s really great. You have to teach the kids about safety, about fire, and everything. That’s how you make it to the next day.”

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