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Organizers prep for National Night Out celebration in Hagerstown

August 02, 2011|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown is the site for a local National Night Out celebration.
By Caleb Calhoun/Mobile Journalist

HAGERSTOWN — Workers for the Hagerstown Parks and Recreation Division were out at Fairgrounds Park at 7 a.m. today setting up for the 28th annual National Night Out Celebration.

The event will be held at the South Pavilion there Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Junior Mason, parks superintendent for the City of Hagerstown, said that tables, benches, and tents had to be set up. Also a stage is being brought in.

"It doesn't take that much to set this up," he said. "We usually can get it all done in a day."

According to the National Night Out website, www.nationalnightout.org, the celebration is an annual event, held on the second Tuesday in August. Communities across the country get together to raise awareness of crime and drug prevention, generate support for local programs, and bring law enforcement and the community together.

"This event is a great way to heighten people's awareness of the issues facing their neighborhoods," said Carolyn Brooks, coordinator of C-SAFE in Hagerstown. "It's really nice to see people come out and enjoy things about the community."

The Hagerstown Police Department is organizing the event at Fairgrounds Park with support from C-SAFE and various sponsors, according to the City of Hagerstown. Brooks said around 1,200 people are expected to show up.

"We need to be prepared and ready by 5 p.m.," she said. "People always come a little early."

The celebration will include police demonstrations, rock climbing, music, face paint, balloons, and dancing for people who want to try Zumba, which combines dancing to international music with aerobics.

Preparations for the event, including organizing the sponsors and planning the entertainment, began in March, Brooks said.

This is the fifth year the National Night Out Celebration is being held at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown, according to Brooks. Before that each neighborhood had its own party, but that caused traffic problems in the city. As a result the city started having one major celebration.

"Before we had the event at Fairgrounds Park, it was just like a bunch of block parties going on in the area," Brooks added.

Different sponsors are helping to put together the event, according to Brooks. Target is the lead sponsor. The City of Hagerstown Housing Authority is funding most of the entertainment sections of the celebration, including the face painting and balloons. The Washington County Community Action Council, the Washington County Health Department, Alternative Sanctions, Maryland Physicians Care, and local neighborhood organizations are also sponsoring the event.

After it is over, Brooks said the Memorial Recreation Center will have a free swim for kids ages 6 to 16. However, they have to have an entrance card with enough holes punched in it to show that they visited enough vendors at the event.

Brooks said that National Night Out is also great way to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and citizens.

"The interaction between the community and law enforcement is always great at this event," she said. "People get to see a softer side of law enforcement."

Hot dogs, sodas, water, chips, rolls, and cookies will be given away for free at the event.

All entrances to the park will be open, and Brooks said there will be greeters at the entrances via Cannon Avenue and Cleveland Avenue. She added that traffic should not be affected by the amount of people that could show up.

"People often walk here, and there are plenty of parking spaces," she said.

If residents cannot make it, Brooks said they can show their support for raising crime awareness by turning on their porch lights.

Other places in Washington County that are having National Night Out events tonight include Byron Park in Williamsport, Shafer Park in Boonsboro, Widmeyer Park in Hancock, and Veterans Park in Smithsburg.

Approximately 37 million people celebrated National Night Out in 2010 in 15,110 communities nationwide, according to the City of Hagerstown.

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