Petal announces activities for Night Out Against CrimeBy HASKEL BURNS,
Officials from Petal’s fire and police departments have worked out some of the free activities for this year’s National Night Out Against Crime, a neighborhood initiative designed to enhance the relationship between residents and law enforcement officials.
National Night Out will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at Hinton Park and will feature a coloring contest and local business booths. One of the highlights for children will be the Touch an Emergency Vehicle feature, which will allow kids to get up close with a police car, ambulance, fire truck and tow truck.
Local business booths also will be present at the event, and Petal Fire Department staff will be on hand grilling hamburgers and hot dogs while supplies last.
“We want to be proactive in the community, and not reactive,” said Miranda Williams, administrative assistant with Petal Police Department. “So any chance that we can get to bridge the gap between the community and the police and fire departments, we try to take that.”
Officials from the two departments are encouraging businesses, churches and civic groups to set up a free booth at the event. Anyone interested in participating can email Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Katherine Minyard at (601) 912-2341.
“Right now we just have a couple of booths, but we’re still in the first part of planning it,” Williams said. “So that’s why we’re trying to encourage (people) to come out and just have a night with the children.
“They could do face painting, painting on the rocks, water balloon races, stuff like that – we’re really open to anything.”
This marks the first year National Night Out Against Crime will be held at Hinton Park, as the event is usually put on by neighborhood associations.
“Unfortunately, we don’t really have neighborhood associations set up with homeowners and all of that,” Williams said. “In the past, we’ve only had (the McInnis Street) neighborhood that’s participated, and we know what a good benefit it is to get out and meet your neighbors.
“So we thought this time that if we did it as a community-wide event, it would give us an opportunity to see what churches are out there, see what civic groups are out there.”
Fire Chief Joe Hendry said the event also serves to promote the neighborhood watch program, signage and awareness of crime.
“The sense of community and camaraderie is really the big plus to me, in that people get to know their neighbors,” he said in an earlier story. “A lot of times we don’t know our neighbors – we don’t make much effort, because everybody’s so busy and we don’t have a lot of time to devote to that stuff.
“But this is a combined effort with the city, police, fire, public works – everyone will be involved.”