August 12, 2015

Safe Streets Weekend Honors Area Leaders With Sports, Other Events

Princeton PolicePolitical consultant John Bailey has lived in Denver, Colorado, for several years. But come each August, the New Jersey native heads back to Princeton to take charge of a special weekend that is close to his heart.

“I come home every summer to do this,” said Mr. Bailey, talking about The Joint Effort-Princeton Pete Young Sr. Memorial Safe Streets Weekend, which starts Thursday. The four-day series of events and activities is designed to encourage good decision-making skills and recognize residents who have made significant contributions to the community.

This year’s program runs through Sunday, August 16, beginning at The Arts Council of Princeton and continuing at the first Baptist Church, Community Park, the Elks Lodge, and the Hank Pannell Center.

“The whole concept is to keep neighborhoods safe, develop relationships between the community and police, and convince people to do the right thing,” said Mr. Bailey, who is the former director of the local and national Weed and Seed program. “It started off with [Princeton Police] Chief Federico, and Mayor [Mildred] Trotman. Now, [Princeton Police] Chief Sutter and [municipal administrator] Marc Dashield are taking the lead, and they’re very supportive of the concept. They guide the thinking and help me raise the dollars to make things happen.”

Among the activities planned for the weekend are a community reception, a photography exhibit, basketball games and a clinic, a block party, a workout with Olivia’s Wellness Connection, awards ceremonies, and more. Basketball, close to Mr. Bailey’s heart, is a focus. The festival concludes Sunday with an all-day series of games followed by a reception.

The basketball games are named in memory of Pete Young Senior, “a fixture in the community, a businessman, social activist, and recreation guy,” Mr. Bailey said. “He had a big impact so we decided to do the games in his name. We also have the concept of a gathering, which is to bring Princetonians home for a weekend. We took the gathering and the games, and merged them into one long weekend of events.”

Separate receptions will honor influential African American men and women. But Mr. Bailey stresses that the weekend is not just about one segment of the community. “The events are focused on all citizens, not just blacks,” he said. “Being able to share our history, and reflect on our memories, is very important for all of us.”

A Princeton native, Mr. Bailey also spent a portion of his youth in South Brunswick. He worked in Trenton for former Mayor Doug Palmer, when Trenton was the nation’s first Weed and Seed city. It was political consulting work that took him to Denver, where he is also active in neighborhood events.

Mr. Bailey still has family members who live and work in Princeton. Son Kamau Bailey is the head girl’s basketball coach at Princeton Day School, and also works with The Bailey Basketball Academy in Princeton. He is the New Jersey State Director for the 76ers Basketball Camp and the deputy director of the 76ers International Basketball Camps.

“The town was good to me,” Mr. Bailey said. “So I feel this is why I have to give something back. I’m connected there. Jim Floyd and Mildred Trotman are my mentors. I’m just a Princeton guy who cares about his community.”

For more information, call (609) 647-2297 or (720) 629-0964.