National Night Out boosts community safety, pride
Police officers join firefighters, public works employees at local neighborhood parties
And what a party it was - an evening soiree on Pacific University's west lawn featuring a pair of bands, dozens of dashes through a Forest Grove Fire and Rescue sprinkler hose and hundreds of free meals.
All those activities punctuated a local version of the 2011 nationwide safety and crime prevention event, said Teresa Kohl, community service officer for the Forest Grove Police Department.
'This wonderful, all-free event ... is the reward and gift to [the] folks who attended,' Kohl said Monday morning.
In Forest Grove, trucks rolled in with supplies bright and early Aug. 2, hours before the party opened at 5 p.m. Representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Neighborhood Watch, the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency and more shared information with attendees.
Local bands Rudefish and Painted Gray entertained families, and a variety of folks - including Rotary club members and Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce executive director Teri Koerner - pitched in to help.
Sgt. Kevin Ellingsburg, Capt. Aaron Ashbaugh and Chief Kerry Aleshire all had a hand in showing off Forest Grove police protocol, delivering demonstrations for taser and handcuffing and providing a simulated DUII stop.
Kids eager to grab a bicycle helmet donated by the Knights of Pythias waited in a long line for their prize, tots jumped and slid on an inflated castle and family members participated in a scavenger hunt.
Everyone undoubtedly went away with a better understanding of community safety.
'This is the true heart of a small American city - its people,' Kohl said, pointing out that planning for this year's event had been months in the making.
'So many aspects of this event were spectacular and it is thanks to the generosity and dedication of the wonderful people who work and volunteer to make Forest Grove a better place to be,' said Kohl. 'Aramark and Pepsi stepped up to provide free food and drinks, and the entire police department, along with staff from Forest Grove Fire and Rescue, Light and Power, public works and the parks department all worked side by side carrying generators, setting up barricades and off-loading trucks and trailers filled with food, tents and supplies.'
Cornelius, Banks hold their own events
Banks and Cornelius held similar celebrations on the same night in different time slots.
Joe Noffsinger, acting police chief in Cornelius, said 700 people showed up to that city's party - and they gobbled up what was offered.
'We handed out 600 hot dogs,' Noffsinger said, and officials served up slices from four sheet cakes and passed out 800 bottles of water and soda.
There was full buy-in from city workers, as well.
'Every department participated in this event, with exhibits of heavy equipment from public works,' noted Noffsinger.
The fire department demonstrated the Jaws of Life, LifeFlight landed 'and allowed families to see it up close,' police vehicles were on display and several officers were on hand to speak with citizens, Noffsinger said.
Cornelius City Library staffed a booth in Harleman Park, as did the Community Oriented Policing Citizens Advisory Board.
A dunk tank, face painting, music and a disc jockey also were part of the fun.
'It was a great time for all,' said Noffsinger.