A record crowd turned out Tuesday evening for Jacksonville’s National Night Out celebration in Community Park.
The nationwide event is held in communities all over the country on the same evening in an effort to enhance the relationships between law enforcement and the community.
The event was co-sponsored by Morgan, Scott, Cass Crime Stoppers, and the Jacksonville Citizens Police Academy. Crime Stoppers Coordinator Loren Hamilton says for a day that was forecast for intense heat and then hit by rain in the morning, turned out to be pretty perfect conditions.
“We are very very happy with the turnout today. Everybody seems really really pleased with the vendors and the presentations. The weather was perfect, sop a great night.”
First responders from all over the area were in attendance, including police and fire department personnel from both Jacksonville and South Jacksonville, the Morgan County/Jacksonville ESDA, Life Star ambulance, and even a visit by an Area/Evac helicopter which landed in the park part way into the event.
Jacksonville Police Chaplain Allan Braddish says overall it was a perfect night. “I have to give it a 10. We weren’t sure this morning whether it was going to come off because of the rain and the heat, but it turned out beautifully, and we’ve had the largest crowd I think we’ve ever had.
It was two years that we didn’t have it because of Covid and we were excited. And we are especially excited with the number of agencies that have come out and all of the departments that participated. We had a lot more agencies and encouraged each of them to bring a game or something interactive, and all of them did. It seemed to really appeal to our families.”
The Grotto Bus and Salvation Army each provided food for the event. Braddish says there was something for everyone of all ages. “The families really seemed to be appreciative of the opportunity to just get out and interact with each other. The demonstrations this year were excellent. We had our K9 demonstration, our self-defense demonstration, the drone demonstration was popular this year and the helicopter was able to come in and land. That’s always a treat because if they are transporting they can’t do it, or if the weather is a little bit off with the wind and so forth they can’t do it.”
DJ Eddie Baldwin entertained the crowd throughout the night and children’s prizes were given out including a pair of bicycles donated by Walmart, with helmets donated by the Jacksonville Police Department.
National Night Out is a free event that is held annually on the second Tuesday of August.