SIDNEY — National Night Out, the nation-wide, annual program in which local law enforcement aims to connect and build community relations, is set for the Tuesday evening, Aug. 6.
The first Tuesday in August across America is the day annually designated to promote crime prevention and police-community relations.
The city of Sidney will observe National Night Out between 5:30 to 10 p.m. downtown on the Shelby County courtsquare and at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, 707 N. Ohio Ave.
In the villages of Botkins and Jackson Center, National Night Out will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m.
The Sidney Police Department (SPD), the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, Ohio State Highway Patrol (OSP) and Sidney Fire Department will be present to facilitate communication and foster relationships with residents. Deputies from the Sheriff’s Office and OSP troopers plan to visit each of the communities.
Sidney Alive invites the public to join the free attractions including various games, bounce houses, an inflatable obstacle course, face painting, crafts, demonstrations, and enjoy numerous take-home goodies for kids. Free food will be provided by Connection Point Church.
“In a technology culture that creates a lot of isolation, we are excited to see our community come together. Our hope is that several neighborhoods throughout the city of Sidney and our county villages will create their own block parties to come out into the street and meet one another, to know one another, and in turn be able to better identify when something seems out of place,” Sidney Alive Executive Director Amy Breinich said in a press release.
About 30 organizations will be participating in downtown Sidney this year.
Sidney Alive Events Coordinator Sheila Keykens said at the downtown location, McDonald’s will have “Toy Story“ characters handing out coupons for free soft serve ice cream, the Salvation Army’s emergency disaster canteen will be handing out free water and popcorn, and there will be four food trucks offering food for sale.
Shelby County Shooting Sports Archery 4-H Club’s trailer will be set up from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. for participants to have an opportunity to shoot a bow and arrow at several different targets. Also, Rolling Hills Skate’s mascot Roller Roo will be passing out coupons from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. for free admission to the skating rink. There also will also be dunk tank containing first responders, Keykens said.
The Sidney Fire Department will help kids operate a fire hose to knock-out pretend fires, and depending on calls, a fire truck present for children to explore, Keykens said.
“All are welcome to come. And folks from area villages are welcome if they don’t have a place to go,” Keykens said.
Sidney Police Community Service Officer Bryce Stewart said for parents that are interested, SPD will offer fingerprinting for their children again this year. He said if police see any child wearing a helmet while riding their bike, he will issue a “ticket” as a reward to be redeemed for free ice cream at McDonald’s.
“I don’t know how many kids will be on their bike, as they cant ride their bike on the courtsquare, but we do give out ‘tickets’ any time we see kids wearing a helmet (on their bike),” Stewart said, when asked if they will be giving out tickets at the event.
Officers will be moving back and forth between the two Sidney locations. Stewart, SPD detective Mark Brunson, dispatcher Abbey Goins, Sidney Fire Lt. Ryan Heitman and Chris North, with Veteran’s Services and Emerson Wagner Realty, will be in the dunk tank.
“Just to see the kids’ faces light up to get down to their level, and to have a positive interaction them and seen in a good light is extremely humbling for all officers,” he continued. “As police officers, we want to reach out to the community not just to serve and protect (in the daily work) but also to be involved and let (children) know that we are there for them.”
St. Paul’s United Church Co-Event Organizer Gina Skorupski said, as in years past, there will be lots of games for kids and free food from 6 to 8 p.m. in the church’s parking lot. There will be various games and prizes, a D.J. playing all types of music from oldies to newer music, line-dancing, Bingo, and hot dogs, popcorn and snow cones.
“We will have five new games this year for the kids,” Skorupski said. “We usually have a pretty good time!”
Botkins Police Chief Tom Glass confirmed this is the first year the village of Botkins will hold its own National Night Out. The event will take place on “Dutch” Van Horn Way, on the west side of the sports complex.
Members of Botkins Police Deparment and Firefighter Department, CareFlight, OSP, the Sheriff’s Office, and Wilson Health will participate, Glass said. Firefighters will help kids use fire hoses and there will be give-aways, he said.
“We will have stuff for the kids to do and they can see police and fire vehicles and what a helicopter looks like,” Glass said. “We just jumped in here to get out feet wet and will see how it goes and may look to add more stuff for next year.”
Jackson Center Police Chief Chuck Wirick said they have been putting on the National Night Out for a number of years in Jackson Center. This year it will kick off after the re-dedication of the Gary Gross memorial in village’s park behind the swimming pool.
Usually the event is held at the village’s public pool, but this year, due to the pool being closed for repairs, National Night Out was moved out into the park area.
“Typically it’s a pool party, but because the pool is down for repairs, this year I had to improvise, and it’s a whole new ball game,” Wirick said with a laugh. “We are going to try to bring back some of the old games like we used to play at family reunions, such as the egg on a spoon race, or three-legged race.”
In Jackson Center, Wirick said there will be free light snacks and refreshments, like hot dogs, chips, cookies, water and probably lemonade. They will have lots of games and a coloring station set up for kids, a K-9 demonstration, a DJ, and numerous organizations set up to hand out pamphlets.
Keykens said, “We are extremely fortunate and sincerely grateful for all the people that come together to make our community events successful. The outpouring of support between businesses, churches, various agencies, sponsors and individual volunteers, coupled with different law enforcement entities and fire and rescue, all partnering together to strengthen relationships is a priceless commodity for which Sidney Alive is quite appreciative of.”
National Association of Town Watch sponsors National Night Out, which now involves over 38 million people across 16,000 communities from all 50 states, according to the National Night Out website.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.