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Annual night out called big success
Ramsay Bushnaq, left, Khalil Kelly, Kenny Mullins, Justin Delaney and Ms. Grant of the Dept. of Juvenile Justice promote a drug-free lifestyle at National Night Out in Richmond Hill. - photo by Photo by Caitlyn Boza
Tuesday was a big night on both ends of the county as communities celebrated National Night Out in Richmond Hill and Pembroke.
Despite heavy afternoon rains in South Bryan, around 1,500 Richmond Hill residents flocked to J.F. Gregory Park to help local law enforcement agencies celebrate the town’s second annual National Night Out.
And Pembroke had quite the turnout of its own, with around 300 North Bryan residents descending on the downtown area for the event, despite competing with open house events at area schools.
“We gear our Night Out toward back to school so that we can get the kids involved,” said Pembroke Chief of Police Mark Crowe, adding that there were about 500 backpacks filled with supplies available for giveaway. “This is a chance for kids to come out learn about safety and also get free Sno-cones, hot dogs and supplies.”
In Richmond Hill, younger guests enjoyed free pony rides and the inflatable bounce house, while participants of all ages lined up for the police dunk-tank, each hoping to successfully sink the “officer-on-duty.”
The main objectives of the evening were to raise awareness of crime and fire prevention and to strengthen the relationship between Richmond Hill and Pembroke law enforcement agencies and the community they serve.
“It’s a great way to let the community see what we do for them everyday,” said firefighter Joseph Forlenza. “Usually we’re invisible to them unless they see our lights in their mirrors. We want to get in touch with people in anyway possible to get across our message of fire prevention.”
Firefighters taught children how to escape from a burning building; multiple emergency services agencies set up safety displays throughout the park; and local teens promoted a drug-free lifestyle.
One Richmond Hill child, Royal Moss, enjoyed all aspects of the event.
“It liked it,” he said. “I learned out to get out of a smoky building, and I had fun.”
Savannah-based clogging group, Home Cookin’, was one of the evening’s scheduled performances and was impressed with the event.
“It’s such a nice family thing that they (law enforcement agencies) do, and it really brings everyone together,” said Dawn Thomas, a Richmond Hill-based member of Home Cookin’.  “We’ve been so excited to dance here tonight.”
National Night Out is a nationwide initiative that was instituted by the National Association of Town Watch. The program is in its 27th year.
Richmond Hill and Pembroke were two of more than 15,000 communities participating in the program.
Freelance writer Glad Doggett contributed to this report.
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