Amidst the current civil unrest between civilians and police officers, one precinct conducted a bike tournament to extend closer ties to the community.
On Thursday, July 7, the 49th Precinct held their first Bike ‘BMX’ Tournament at Loreto Park, where youth of all ages were provided the opportunity to participate in a outdoor, community-wide summer event and compete against their fellow BMX peers.
The Bike ‘BMX’ Tournament, more specifically, was initiated by Captain Keith Walton, commanding officer of the 49th Precinct, who was previously involved in the precinct’s Bike Patrol Unit.
“This event was part of many events that the 49th Precinct is hosting to create a safe haven for the youth of our community by taking back our parks throughout the summer,” said Walton. “These events are extremely important to our mission of continuing to improve the relationship between the police department and our community.”
The atmosphere in Loreto Park was electric even before the event began, as all of the contest’s participants practiced their bike moves and tricks, similar to athletes practicing in the arena before a big game.
The participants performed in three age categories: 10-12 year-olds, 13-16 year-olds and 17 and up, with about 10 contestants from each age group.
Skateboarders were also welcome to participate.
A steady rain didn’t deter the event’s 30 contestants who ‘weathered the storm’ and waited for the rain to subside.
The spectators, which included friends, family members and local residents, were treated to food, snacks and drinks.
Food was donated by Sabrett Hot Dogs, F&J Pine Restaurant, La Masa Restaurant, Morris Park Meat Market, Fresh and Tasty Baked Products, Emilio’s of Morris Park, Captains Pizzeria & Restaurant, GoodFellas Beverage, Big Deal Supermarket and Nutrishop, among others.
Sponsors for the Bike ‘BMX’ Tournament, many of whom were present at the event, included the Morris Park Community Association, Jacobi Medical Center, American Red Cross, New York Sports Club, Planet Fitness and Lair, among others.
RAIR, a new Morris Pork clothing retailer, donated hats for the event. The Bikery also held a raffle for a free gold BMX GT bike.
“This kind of event lets the community know that we are here for them – even on a friendly level,” said 49th Precinct community affairs officer David Lepore. “We are very grateful to have such a strong community in support of us.”
“This event was a brain child of the 49th Precinct – one that brings youth and adolescents out of their homes during the summertime,” said Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, who attended the event. “I commend Captain (Keith) Walton and the 49th Precinct for the great job they have done – and this event shows that they are friends of the community. ”