The 32nd Annual National Night Out (NNO) program culminated on Tuesday. Last year, NO 2015 involved over 38 million people in over 16,000 communities from all 50 states. Territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. National Night Out 2016 was expected to be the largest ever.
The Sussex County Sherriff’s Department as well as the Va. State Police hosted the event at the Ruritan Baseball Field off of Bank Street, in Waverly. The event included free food and beverages and activities for the children.
“It’s just national community policing,” Dispatcher Pam Jones said. Jones, was also one of the coordinators for the event. “We decided to all just team up with the state police and different vendors and just put it on.”
Jones read out the raffles in which children could win different prizes. One of the prizes included a two day pass to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg.
“We’ve contacted different organizations,” Jones said. “The rescue squad, the Virginia Diner, Side Rental, and just other local businesses to help us pull it off.”
The event is overall designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for and participation in local anticrime programs, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back
“The whole entire fellowship of the whole thing is showing that our community as a whole can come together and be one,” Waverly Police Department Darryl Hayes said. “All law enforcement officers are not bad. We care about everyone and we’re here to help. So we won’t have to always come together in a bad time. Or when they’re in a need, we can come together and fellowship as one under one unified envelope, under one unified law enforcement agency. You see different uniforms, you see different badges but we are one.”
Event planners grilled and gave away free cheeseburgers and hot dogs to hungry guests, as well as chips and drinks. In addition to the raffle, bounce houses were also set up for the children to play in. Another thing that was set up at the event was a dunk tank in which children could throw and ball to drop different police department members into the water for fun.
“We try to bring our community together as always,” Sussex County Chief Deputy Earnest Giles said. “I’m so glad to see participation from the community and also the law enforcement here.”
National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday of every August. The event this year saw some rain, but it didn’t stop participants including children, and officers from getting out and dancing when the Cupid’s Shuffle Song played. The officers also played a game of musical chairs when the children were finished playing. Scruff McGruff even paid a visit to the party.
“In today’s time with all this chaos and animosity going on between the general public and law enforcement, we need to bridge this gap,” Giles said. “We need to bring this thing together, no matter what. It’s so important especially for our youth, to understand that we have to come together as one.”
Featured Photo: McGruff the Crime Dog with Troopers from the Virginia State Police.