The very first year Richmond Hill National Night Out drew five times the anticipated attendance, filling J.F. Gregory Park with residents seeking fun as well as joining together as a united front against crime.
Cpl. Susan Willis, who coordinated the Richmond Hill event, said the attendance at J.F. Gregory Park was overwhelming. She had anticipated 500 people to come out and ended up with a whopping attendance figure of 2,500.
"I never dreamed that so many would come out, but everything went so smooth," Willis said. "Of course, we ran out of food and had to go purchase more. We bought pretty much all the hot dogs in town. All the events were so popular and we got a lot of information out too. There was a wealth of law enforcement information available. Nobody left without a bag full of goodies, which had information as well as stickers and balloons to make it fun for the kids."
Willis said she was a bit embarrassed that the parking was so inadequate, but "we promise to have that corrected next year."
Willis said next year’s event will be "no holds barred and really exciting – especially now that we know the volume of people to expect. We’ll have many more fun things to do."
This year’s event including activities such as a dunking booth with traffic cops like Star Cpl. Ray Fowler and Lt. David Hooks in the hot seat, exhibits from ATA Martial Arts Studio and Life Moves Dance Studio, a concert from 2009 Richmond Hill Idol Nick Jones, an appearance by Ronald McDonald and an inflatable playground.
The entranceway to the park was lined with informational booths and exhibits related to law enforcement.
"There was a constant line at the fingerprinting booth and officers and department staff answered a lot of public safety questions," Willis said. "The DNR, Rape Crisis folks, fire department and a Fort Stewart helicopter were there – there was just a wealth of law enforcement information available."
Willis said the RHPD is already beginning to prepare for next year’s Night Out, and the public is invited to attend a meeting this coming Thursday at the police station at 6:15 p.m.