A Camden park protest turns into a celebration of light

CAMDEN, N.J. - January 15, 2014

More than 100 residents came out to Von Nieda Park with flashlights for "Un-Dark the Park."

For the past two years, community members – many of them members of the St. Anthony Padua Parish – have been fighting for lighting to be installed in the park to improve safety and security.

What started as a protest turned into a celebration Wednesday night.

"We came out tonight expecting this to be a little bit of a protest, but it turns out more of a celebration because of the good news that we got yesterday from Mr. Frank Moran of the County Parks Department," said Father Jud Weiksnar.

Residents protested in the park flashlights to demonstrate how dark the park is at night. They say their kids are unable to use the park, and residents like Jose Figueroa say they have been mugged.

"I think, as a matter of fact, I know had the lights been over here that wouldn't have happen," said Figueroa. "We desperately need these lights, not only for the adults, but for the children that are around here."

Tuesday, the director of Camden County Parks advised residents that he would soon be taking bids for lights in the park.

"This is awesome," said Minta Nieves. "We're going to have lights for the park after two years of us trying."

"I feel great, I'm glad they are going to do something for the park because we need the lights," said Luisa Nieves.

"For once, we're actually meeting not where somebody got killed, but where something positive is happening in our city. So I hope this is just the beginning of something great to happen in this city, in a city that has been heavily criticized," said Miguel Arriaga.

Residents are hoping the county delivers on their commitment to install the lights and that they will be installed before the end of the year.

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