Oh, What a National Night Out!

If one of the Marion, Mattapoisett, or Rochester police officers at the Tri-Town National Night Out called out “Freeze!” that August 7 night, then surely the weather took heed because sweltering skies suddenly turned sympathetic with rolling clouds just dense enough to filter the sunlight, dropping the temperature about five degrees right from the start of the event.

National Night Out is one of those summertime weeknight events that pull in quite the crowd, with hundreds passing through the field at ORR before the night was through.

For Rochester Police Officer Robert Nordahl, National Night Out is a great event, and it’s not just because of the free pizza, although that is one of his personal favorites.

“Besides the pizza,” added Nordahl, “seeing all the families come out, all the little kids enjoying themselves and all the lights, the sirens, and all the buttons, is what I like about it.”

And indeed the children were enjoying the buttons and switches, free to set them off as often as they liked – within reason, of course.

Over where the Mattapoisett Fire department had its booth set up, kids spun the wheel to win a prize in a game of wheel of fortune of sorts.

“This is from our S.A.F.E. Program,” said Firefighter Joe Tripp. S.A.F.E. stands for Student Awareness of Fire. “We go out to the local schools … and teach kids about fire safety, and safety in general,” said Tripp.

Tripp smiled as the children stepped up one by one to spin the wheel and watch it settle on a number. He then read a fire safety question that corresponded with the number.

“No matter if they answer the question correctly, they get a prize and they learn something,” said Tripp.

Mattapoisett Police Chief Mary Lyons said she loves how the National Night Out draws together the community when she really gets to see “the recognition the community gives to the police, fire, and emergency response for all they do,” said Lyons.

“It’s also a great opportunity to expose the public to the equipment,” she said. “The kids are having a blast with the sirens – and the microphones,” she added, just as a child’s voice sounded out loudly across the field.

Marion Police Chief John Garcia wasn’t scheduled to work that day, but he still turned out to enjoy the event and stand with his fellow Marion officers.

“This is a fantastic event to bring all from public safety together with the community,” said Garcia. “Most people only see our officers when they’re working. This is a chance for them to connect and interact with them in a fun atmosphere.”

National Night Out was started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch as an event aimed towards fostering camaraderie between police and the communities they serve by offering them an opportunity to come together under positive circumstances.

By Jean Perry

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