SIDNEY — First responders filled courtsquare Tuesday night as they greeted children during the annual National Night Out. The event allows local residents the opportunity to become acquainted with each other and the first responders in the area.
“I think whenever you can get together in any non-confrontational event it’s good to get together and build those ties for down the road. It’s just like a little party here in Sidney where people can just get together, have some fun, be friendly, and kids can play around in a safe environment,” said Sidney Police Chief William Balling.
Several local first responders took part in the event. These included Sidney Fire Department, Sidney Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the Piqua Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. The hosted activities for the children such as checking out the police car and using the fire hose to knock down wooden flames in a wooden cutout of a building. These activities gave the children the opportunity to become acquainted with the first responders and to show them that they need not fear them.
Local non-profits had booths set up. These included Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Amos Memorial Library, Shelby County Children’s Services, Red Cross Elizabeth New Life Women’s Center, Shelby County Historical Society, Salvation Army, Safe Haven, Connection Point Church of God, Sidney-Shelby County YMCA, Samaritan Works and Sidney Alive.
“Anytime you get everyone out into the community is a good thing. The Y is here to promote being out and active. We’ve got games for all ages. We’re also promoting our basketball and flag football leagues which start up in the next couple of weeks. Of course we have information available on the upcoming leagues, ” said Pam Fultz, marketing/development coordinator for the Sidney-Shelby County YMCA.
“We wanted to be out in the community so people can become aware of what we are and what we do. We offer help for those with drug and alcohol addiction,” said Sheila Lundy, executive director of Samaritan Works.
“This is a nice opportunity to be able to talk to different people around the square to connect with. We’ve been trying to do that with our church, and it has made a difference, connecting with people, talking to them, and just enjoying each other. This is great to spend time with kids, and give away free food. It doesn’t get any better than that!” said Jan Whitsett, member of Connection Point.
Businesses taking part included National Cash Advance, Damsel in Defense, Advance America, Rolling Hills Skating Arena, and Cumberland Kettle Corn.
“We like to come out for any events that Sidney Alive puts on for the kids because we want the kids to know that we’re here. We want to tell them about our facility and what we have to offer also to give back to the community.” said Paula Hill, co-owner, Rolling Hills.
“All of us ladies need protection, but we don’t all have protection. A lot of people don’t know we exist, and if they don’t know we exist, how can they get that protection. Some people want a gun. Some people don’t. if they don’t, then I have the options for non-lethal products. We have education for women to help them to keep themselves and their children safe. We even carry a set of books to teach children about staying safe, and a program to keep your children safe on the internet.” said Melissa Barhorst, Damsel in Defense.
There were many activities for the children including making sand necklaces, crafts, basketball, football throw, Corn Hole, bubbles, glow sticks, a ring toss, giant Jinga, and a ball toss.
The food available was hot dogs, water, kettle corn, popcorn, Popsicles and cotton candy. Several booths were handing out candy as well.
“I think it’s great for the kids to be able to meet people. It’s really good for Sidney. It’s good to meet the officers, to make sure we’re safe, and to be able to bring my granddaughter down here to do the activities,” said Bonnie Argabright, of Sidney.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.