NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – For more than 30 years, communities from coast-to-coast have come together for a National Night Out against crime.
And once again, several communities around the Valley joined the party on Tuesday. After some late-afternoon rain showers rolled through, the clouds parted, and residents risked the threat of more rain to enjoy a free, fun-filled, safe night out with their friendly neighborhood law enforcement officers.
“This is our 15th year and we have been pretty lucky. I kept on saying that. It does not rain on National Night Out,” New Middletown Police Sgt. Ken Goist said.
Goist was the chairman for this year’s National Night Out committee.
A parade down Main Street was once again part of the festivities and kids lined the street to gather candy.
“I think this is probably one of our bigger parades this year. We got a lot of fire departments from other locations, a couple different police departments as far as North Jackson,” Goist said.
In Hubbard’s Harding Park, people had their eyes on the skies as well, especially since they added a classic car show to the National Night Out lineup last year.
“Last year, the weather was right, they had 135 cars out here. So I support them, I come. If the car gets wet, I just clean it when I get home,” Ralph Pallante said.
But it’s about more than the rain, the rides and the tootsie rolls.
National Night Out promotes crime and drug prevention programs, such as neighborhood watch groups, local businesses and law enforcement. It also gives residents a chance to meet and greet their local police and fire officials in a more relaxed setting.
“I think it does make that easier if the time comes where they need to call us for whatever, and they are able to put a face to it,” Hubbard Township Police Chief Todd Coonce said.
Heather Sowers of New Middletown agreed.
“It is nice to see them when they are not there for an emergency,” she said.
New Middletown closed the festivities with a fireworks display at 10 p.m.
Attendance numbers might be a little lower than expected this year because of the threat of rain, but Sgt. Goist said when New Middletown started their National Night Out event 15 years ago, about 300 people showed up. Now they see approximtaley 3,000 people every August for the parade, free food and fireworks.