National Night Out Gives Cops, Community Chance To Connect
WILKES-BARRE — Bright sunlight shone on the National Night Out in Public Square on Sunday afternoon.
The annual event, organized by the Wilkes-Barre Crime Watch Coalition, was designed to bring the community together with those who serve and protect them.
Law enforcement officers, other first responders, social service agencies and elected officials mingled with ordinary citizens throughout the square, but especially in a large tent where refreshments were served and children’s faces were painted by cheerleaders from GAR High School, among other activities.
This year’s theme was “remember when.”
Local historian Tony Brooks remembered. He led a tour of the square, detailing days long-gone when the Luzerne County Courthouse was located in the square, in the 19th century.
About an hour after the event started, organizer Charlotte Raup, of the crime watch coalition, described the turnout, on a warm humid day, as “wonderful.”
Ted Wampole, Wilkes-Barre city administrator, said National Night Out is “good for the community.”
The event gives city residents, especially children, a chance to interact with police officers and firefighters, and vice versa, Wampole said.
Community activist Angel Jirau said the event is needed in light of recent controversies in the city, especially its police force.
“Now is the most important time to bring people together,” he said.
Children and their parents found plenty to do. There was a line waiting for pony rides, and the city fire department activated its fire safety house, where children learned first-hand how to escape from a smoky, burning house.
Samantha Martinez brought two children, ages 2 and 11, to the event.
Martinez said she has attended and enjoyed previous National Night Out celebrations. On Sunday, she made the trip from her Nanticoke home “just to get the kids out in the fresh air,” she said.
National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, has been held annually since 1984. Many communities hold the event on the first Tuesday of August.
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