YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Throughout the United States, police and their communities are coming together to celebrate National Night Out.
On Tuesday, officers, firefighters, veterans and civilians all participated in the celebration. Emergency vehicles made their way down Elm Street to Wick Park on Youngstown’s north side. Kids and adults got the chance to talk with first responders and check out their vehicles.
Annie Hall started the event in 1985, hoping to build a better bond between police and the public. The 84-year-old said she was forced to do it the first year but after that, she never stopped.
“We’re trying to do something that we care about, our neighborhood and our community,” Hall said.
In her time organizing the event, she says crime got worse for a while, but feels it has improved in recent years.
“It’s important to get the kids to know that police officers are not bad, they’re here to help you,” said Mahoning County Sheriff’s Deputy William Walker. “Get the community involved and get some of these children off the street.”
Mayor John McNally says it’s an important night in Youngstown.
“Having individuals who might not have that much interaction with the police department or the fire department, be with them while they’re eating, talk to them, get to play around with the equipment a little bit.”
New Middletown and Springfield Township also held their 16th annual National Night Out on Tuesday.
It started with a parade from Springfield High School to Saint Paul’s Church. Drivers threw candy out of car windows to people lining the streets. The night ended with a fireworks show.
“Especially with the state of the world as it is today, we want to make sure our police and citizens are very well connected with their police departments, and that they are on a first-name basis, things like that,” said New Middletown Police Chief Vincent D’Egidio. “We’re a small community, we’re a beautiful community and we have great camaraderie with our citizens.”
D’Egidio says it’s also a great chance for officers to show their thanks to community members that support them.
Hall says her one wish for the future is for more people to get involved.
“Everybody should get together, and talk together and be together, that’s what I want. But you can’t make them do it, so you just try.”