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City takes a Night Out to play, mingle

August 04, 2009|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

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    HAGERSTOWN -- A community climbed rocks, danced and generally enjoyed itself at Hagerstown's Fairgrounds Park on Tuesday, a national evening of standing up to crime and drugs.

    For the 26th annual National Night Out, hundreds of parents and children converged at the busy park, where they chatted with members of nonprofit groups, stepped along to a DJ's music and picked up free food.

    Masons set up their Maryland Child Identification Program, capturing the height, weight, fingerprints, DNA, photo and spoken words of dozens of children so their parents will have the details in case of an emergency.

    "This is the most comprehensive program (of its kind) in the United States," said Roger Douglas, a member of the Masons' Friendship Lodge No. 84 in Hagerstown.

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Hagerstown's National Night Out was organized by the Collaborative Supervision and Focused Enforcement, or CSAFE, program.

CSAFE Coordinator Carolyn Brooks said 60 or 70 volunteers helped put the evening together, along with the sponsors: Target, the Hagerstown Housing Authority and the City of Hagerstown.

The event encourages people to get outside, meet their local police officers and think about how to cut down crime.

"And it's a fun time for people," Brooks said.

People gathered around firetrucks and watched a police K-9 chomp on a protective glove during a demonstration.

A line formed for balloon creations by Tom Lilly and Joe Oleszczuk.

As the event wound down, Jessica Schlotterbeck was dripping water after several minutes as a dunk-booth target.

She said her daughter, Trinity, 8, and husband, Chris, the pastor of the Hub City Vineyard church, each took much longer turns in the booth.

Jason Bealand was at the park to play softball with his Covenant Life Church team.

When the game was over, he and his daughters -- 4-year-old Brianna Bealand; 3-year-old McKayla Bealand; and 13-year-old Brenda Rhinehart -- stopped at the National Night Out activities for games and hot dogs.

Kevin Gilmore and Brenda Harris-Gilmore walked around with their daughters, Jasmyne, 7, and Kiarra, 9, as well as family friend Jackie Fisher and her 6-year-old daughter, Tori.

Asked what led her to the park, Harris-Gilmore said, "curiosity."

"I'm really impressed," she said. "It was very informative."

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