National Night Out beats the heat
Quincy people aren’t afraid of temperatures hovering around 100 degrees – not when there is fun and food for all at Lauzier Park. The National Night Out on Monday evening, Aug. 5, sponsored by the Quincy Police Department and Quincy Youth Action Interact was a big success that brought people and various organizations together in a casual setting.
The Quincy Police Department and youth had made sure no detail was overlooked, be it activities or good things to eat. Officers were cooking corn and hot dogs, which was a hot task in the afternoon sun, and there were fries and ice cream offered at other booths. Youth Action Interact provided activities for children.
What is the National Night Out all about? Simply put, it’s bringing people together, all of the people in the community, regardless of age, race or rank. It customarily involves festivals, parades and cookouts.
This is not a new event by any means; it started in 1970 when Matt Peskin, a Community Watch volunteer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, realized there was a need to bring neighbors together to create safety by knowing each other.
In 1984, the National Association of Town Watch introduced the National Night Out program, and it has been going strong and spreading all throughout the nation ever since. It is now an annual gathering, normally taking place on the first Tuesday in August. In some areas, due to climate conditions, it may be held as late as October.
At Quincy’s event, the community was well represented, both in terms of organizations and attendees. Lauzier Park was alive and busy with conversation and games, such as bean bag toss and a dunking station – by far the biggest crowd pleaser and maybe even for the “dunkees,” as the cool water awaited them every time somebody scored a hit. Deputy Fire Chief Tony Leibelt and Chief of Police Kieth Siebert took their turns on the dunking chair, but young Olivia Noble was maybe the bravest of all, volunteering to be the target several times even if she was cold and shivering in her wet swimsuit.
While the PD was a strong presence overall, many others such as the Army, the Marines, and local firefighters were welcoming visitors to learn about their work.
Army Staff Sgt. Moorhouse attended the event with Sgt. Toro and Pvt. Kimball, all three currently from Moses Lake, to answer questions about the Army. They also had a stand for pull-ups and a mat for push-ups, should anyone be tempted to show off their fitness.
The Marines were on a similar mission with Sgt. Timson and future Marines Plasido and Guadarramo. Their booth drew a long line of young men who wanted to test their strength at lifting the ammo cans.
The local fire district had staffed a truck with Tyler McCallum, Jarrett Paullen (both first-year firefighters) and Geoffry Hudson, a resident firefighter. Leibelt was standing in the shade of the large vehicle, enjoying a dinner of corn and fries and friendly conversation. He said so far the summer has been a good one, but we aren’t quite done yet.
Kyle Tucker and Wayde Hilliard with the Sheriff’s Office were busy twisting and bending things into submission. No, not people, but balloons. They created dogs, handcuffs and many other surprising shapes out of long, skinny balloons.
An Airlift Northwest helicopter, even though a little distance from the field, had a steady flow of visitors. Angie German and Dawn Fritts, both flight nurses, and pilot Trenton Mathews watched in amusement as 21-month-old Ezra with his parents, Ryan and Joanne Massey, sat wide-eyed inside the helicopter.
Jessica Flores, a kindergarten teacher and Jose Flores, a laboratory technician in Quincy, were lining up for servings of fries with their two daughters, Jessalen, 8, and Janessa, 4. According to Jessica, they wanted to come to share time with people in the community in which they work.
With all the excitement and fun going on, the crowd hushed when Audre Belt began to sing the national anthem. The activity stilled, hands went to hearts and eyes toward the stage. Belt’s clear, mountain-brook voice carried the tune flawlessly all the way through, and she sang many others throughout the evening. Bill Cron accompanied her with the guitar. Together they are known as the American Honey Band.
The evening was a success from start to finish, along the lines that Quincy Mayor Paul Worley and Siebert said they had wished for: to have the community share time together, just break bread and be good neighbors.
By Jaana Hatton, For the Post-Register