By CHERIL VERNON
An estimated 300 people of all ages attended the National Night Out community event Tuesday at Reagan Park.
The event included free hot dogs, drinks and balloons as well as more than 50 vendor booths that offered information for the adults and candy, games and goodies for the children. Local band Backseat Molly performed and CMB Music Productions provided additional music throughout the evening.
National Night Out is a national annual event organized usually as neighborhood block parties for crime awareness, but this year the Palestine Police Department decided to host a community-wide party.
“We are really proud of the turnout. Everyone really came out and supported us — all of the businesses and sponsors. It’s been an awesome night and next year is going to be bigger and better,” Palestine Police Department Community Relations Officer Patsy Smith said. “This event gives the public a chance to see a different side of law enforcement and what we are trying to do and it’s been a great opportunity to meet and greet.”
Representatives from various law enforcement and emergency personnel including Palestine Police Department, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, Texas Department of Public Safety, Palestine Fire Department, Texas Forest Service, Palestine EMS, Anderson County Emergency Management, City of Palestine Emergency Management and area volunteer fire departments visited with the public and handed out safety information.
Sparky the Fire Dog, McGruff and Smokey the Bear visited with children. Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles were on display and a Medevac helicopter landed on the Reagan Park grounds during the event. Door prizes were given out to attendees as well.
“It’s always a good opportunity to promote wildfire awareness and get Smokey the Bear out when there are this many children,” Texas Forest Service District Forester Buster Robinson said.
City of Palestine Emergency Management Coordinator Schelby Wells was able to hand out emergency management information to the public during the event.
“It’s been a lot of fun getting information out to the public,” Wells said. “In my estimate it was a very profitable evening. I was able to verbally visit with the community about the 72-hour emergency plan to have necessities such as water, food, medication... on hand in case of an emergency.”
American Red Cross volunteer Marcy Myers passed out safety information about services available here in Anderson County.
“We want to let people know we have an office here and we are here to help,” Myers said, noting that more American Red Cross volunteers were needed in Anderson County.
Lavonne and Chuck Honeycutt of Palestine brought their granddaughter Tera Lunsford, 7, with them to the event.
“It’s fun,” Lunsford said while holding a balloon.
On the Palestine Herald-Press Facebook page, Jennifer Boykin Hughes wrote, “Our first time and won’t be the last! Great job everyone! Hats off to Officer (Patsy) Smith!”
View more photos on the Herald-Press Facebook page at www.facebook.com/palestineheraldpress. Click on “Photos” and then “Albums” to view the photos.