LEWISTOWN - Residents of Lewistown were at Rec Park Tuesday night to celebrate National Night Out, an event put on annually by the Lewistown Police Department and Downtown Lewistown Inc.
Despite the event ending early due to rain, Police Chief William Herkert said the event went very well.
"This event is all about bringing the community together," he said. "This is an opportunity for us to educate the community and to show them we are here to support them."
Sentinel photo by BRADLEY KREITZER
Colton Baumgardner, 2, left, of Lewistown, is fingerprinted by Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Chris Fox, center, and Lewistown Borough Police Officer Kristen Croyle during the National Night Out event held at Rec Park Tuesday evening in Lewistown.
Locally, this is the 12th year for the event, and Jim Zubler, Executive Director of Downtown Lewistown Inc., said every year it has grown.
"This event (locally) started out in a backyard and has grown into a major community event," Zubler said.
Across America, this event, which has been around for 31 years, is a time for celebration with various activities which can include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from emergency personnel, rallies and marches, exhibits, youth events, safety demonstrations and seminars, in an effort to heighten awareness and enhance community relations.
The community relations side of the event, along with emergency personnel giving demonstrations, is what many who are involved in the planning process believe the event is all about.
Colby Guyer, with the the Southend Community Watch Block Group, said the event gives people the opportunity to meet and talk to the police and other first responders in a way that makes connections within the community.
Many local businesses and organizations were at the event with information to promote their group, or just help the community enjoy the event. One of these groups was the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board who had Marybeth Wolfe, an alcohol education specialist, at the event to help parents start the conversation with kids about the dangers of drinking.
"There is more to be concerned about than just someone getting behind the wheel," Wolfe said. "Educating parents to start talking to their children at a young age is what helps to combat underage drinking."
Wolfe also said parents should set boundaries, ask questions and should have planned family time, because this could all help prevent underage drinking.
Several officers from the Lewistown Police Department, Granville Police Department and Pennsylvania State Police Lewistown were at the event doing fingerprinting. Officers Efran Quinunez and Kristen Croyle both said this is something that is important for the parents to have as a record in case something happens to their child.
"This also gives us the opportunity to interact with the kids on a positive level," Quinunez said. "If we already have has some positive interaction with them it will make them more willing to come talk to us."
Many local children participated in the activity.
Lewistown Mayor Deb Bargo said this event is a wonderful gathering for the community.
"I think something like this makes our community stronger," Bargo said. "We are not the only ones who take part in this event. There are millions of other events just like ours held all over the country."
Bargo and Herkert agreed that the overall community participation is what makes the event what it is.