By: Sherry Williams Kidd | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: August 23, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – Last Tuesday evening, residents across the county traded smartphones for paper plates and cups as they ventured outside into their community to fellowship with neighbors and members of Prince George’s public safety agencies during the annual National Night Out celebration, joining millions around the country in the growing initiative.
Nearly three dozen different event sites across Prince George featured their own activities as part of the night out events, from fantastic food, family fun and games, face-painting, bounce houses, swimming, giveaways, prizes, and so much more— there was absolutely something for everyone, in every nook of the county last Tuesday evening, the county’s 17th straight year of participation.
National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. NNO enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. It also provides a great opportunity to bring law enforcement officials, first responders, and neighbors together under positive circumstances.
The West Quaker Road neighborhood held their always-popular NNO celebration at Scott Park. There was so much to do and see. The food was fantastic—more like a scrumptious feast, as opposed to picnic fare. The children ran from one game to the next, collecting prizes all along the way. There was a buzz of excitement, socializing, and fun in the air as community residents mingled with neighbors, law enforcement officials, and first responders on-hand for the event. It was one of those rare occasions when there seemed to be a smile on every face in the crowd.
Our West Quaker Road neighborhood really enjoys this National Night Out every year,” commented Darryl Cheek, Neighborhood Watch. “Having our celebration here at Scott Park is a great place with the playground for the kids. Also, because it is so convenient to the PG Government Complex, county officials usually make their first stop on the evening of NNO right here. It is a great opportunity for us to get to know them and let them know the things that concern our neighborhood. We always grill up great food and most of the neighbors cook up great desserts and sides. As you can see from all these children running around, they always have a blast with all these games and prizes. It is truly the best time of the year for all our neighbors to come together, to socialize, and to get to know our police, fire, rescue, government officials, and each other.”
Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities each year on the first Tuesday in August. (Texas observes National Night Out on the first Tuesday of October.) NNO is celebrated in all fifty states, U.S. territories, and military bases around the world. Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts, and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits, and so much more.
“I came to Prince George County to be the County Administrator in March of 2011,” remarked Percy Ashcraft, Prince George County Administrator. “My first National Night Out here in Prince George was obviously the first Tuesday in August of that year. When I was told back then that Prince George had 20-something different NNO events, I was amazed. I came from Caroline County where we had wonderful and fun events, but we only had two different NNO events in all of Caroline. This holiday atmosphere here in Prince George just continues to amaze me. The number of sites in the county that have events, 31 this year, the number of people that participate, and the spirit of our communities is humbling. Being good neighbors, promoting public safety, and all that is wonderful about Prince George County is all represented in this one night. As County Administrator, it makes me so proud to be a part of this wonderful county.”
You would have been hard-pressed to pick what was best about the Baxter Ridge Subdivision NNO celebration. Between the home-cooked delicacies such as fresh-fried fish, homemade macaroni and cheese, baked beans, grilled burgers and hotdogs—just to mention a few of the dishes they served up; it was almost impossible to pick your favorite. There were fun family games; the playground equipment; a bounce house, that even a couple of adults attempted; corn hole competition; shaved ice; and friendly smiles and conversation everywhere you turned. Everything somehow seemed to be greater than the last thing. Neighbors, law enforcement, and first responders, all reported that this had to be the best NNO celebration in the entire county, of course, they were all partaking of the scrumptious food at the time.
“This event is very important to our community because it gives us a chance to meet and welcome new families to our area,” remarked Derrick Looney, one of the Baxter Ridge Subdivision NNO coordinators. “We also get a chance to put out important information about any issues in our subdivision. Another benefit is an opportunity to get to know our police officers, and build relationships with them.”
If you live in an area of Prince George County with no NNO celebration and would like to have your community take part next year, you can do so by going to http://natw.org to register. Registration is free. After your neighborhood has registered, you will receive a confirmation email with further resources regarding National Night Out, including what steps to take next. You will also be able to download a guide and an organizational kit will be sent to your mailing address.
“The best way to prevent crime is to know your neighbors & your surroundings,” said Alexis Grochmal, Prince George Public Information Officer. “National Night out triumphs over a culture that isolates us from each other, and allows us to rediscover our communities. It is a campaign that promotes police and community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. We thank everyone in Prince George that helped make this another successful night out against crime!”