Colorful bounce houses, vibrant snow cones, flashing lights of firetrucks and upbeat music playing from DJs. This was National Night Out on Tuesday.
There were 29 National Night Out events on Tuesday evening throughout the county where law enforcement came together with residents to promote public safety and a sense of community. The First National Night Out in the country was in 1984.
Montgomery County Police (MCP) and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) attended many events to build relationships with members of their communities.
The 6th District police, which represents Gaithersburg and Montgomery Village, had a table at the Cider Mill Apartments event in Gaithersburg with officers and a variety of police stickers and other prizes.
“This is such a great opportunity for our officers and for the community to come together so that we can be in a more trusting environment,” MCP Community Services Officer Melanie Romano said. “We have been working diligently to have more of a presence in this community.”
MCFRS brought a few of its trucks to the Flower Hill Community Center event in Gaithersburg. Attending community members excitedly talked to firefighters and checked out the fire engines.
“I think it’s important for them to just meet us, see the fire truck, see how we operate and ask questions,” MCFRS Fire Rescue Captain Tony Bencosme said at the event. “People are curious, and they can see us in a more relaxed situation instead of an emergency or worst-case scenario.”
In addition to building connections with law enforcement, community members enjoyed connecting with each other.
“We’re a really diverse community, both economically and racially, and I think stuff like this helps people get to know each other and look out for each other,” said Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, a volunteer at the Flower Hill event.
There were many food options for attendees. Flower Hill Community Center’s event included a Kona Ice truck; a Q’Sabroso food truck that featured sandwiches, tacos and salads; and a tent with El Jefe Wood Fired Pizza.
Children had plenty of activity options including art projects, bounce houses and games. The Saybrooke Pool event in Gaithersburg had a superhero-themed bounce house, a giant dart board and an inflatable baseball game.
“It’s a fun event for the kids,” said Laura Etchison, Saybrooke Homeowners Association’s community manager. “It’s important to us that we do it annually, and it was an exceptional turnout this year.”
Etchison estimated that at one point, there were around 150 attendees at the event.