(WKBN) — National Night Out started in 1984 as “America’s Night Out Against Crime.” It’s always the first Tuesday in Aug. It’s a way for the community to get to know their police officers, firefighters and other first responders. That tradition has grown in the Valley.
Austintown’s National Night Out started in 2013. It’s an intimate gathering where the community can meet one on one with first responders, including K-9 officers.
“The fire department, police ambulance. Get to know who is in their area so if anything does wrong –especially kids, they won’t be afraid,” said coordinator Shawne Wilfong.
“I just went to the cop cars. The fire truck and the stands…It was cool,” said 8-year-old Levi Foster.
“I teach kindergarten, first and second. So I’m looking for children from our community that I know and recognize, and we talk a little bit about what they learned in school, what we talked about being safe,” said Austintown Police D.A.R.E. officer Jeffrey Toth.
In New Middletown, thousands of people come out to the county’s biggest National Night Out. Nearly every emergency department in Mahoning County participates– even some from Columbiana County and Pennsylvania.
“Everything is free. There’s no charge for anything. There’s hotdogs, watermelon, french fries, cotton candy, popcorn. There’s a petting zoo, bounce-arounds,” said New Middletown Mayor Harry Kale.
National Night Out is a chance for the community to learn more about first responders and the equipment they use, like the medevac helicopter.
“The kids love the helicopter. It’s always the sight of the show when we come out,” said paramedic and outreach coordinator Matt Horton.
Kids are not the only ones who love the bird.
“It’s my favorite piece of machinery,” said event attendee Layne Shumaker.
Shumaker had to take three trips in a medevac helicopter following a bad car accident in 2013.
“I’ve been on one three times but I don’t remember it. Maybe that’s a good thing,” said Shumaker.
New Middletown ended their event with a firework show.