National Night Out-Harrisonburg, VA

National Night Out is, obviously, a national event. I had not heard about it until I moved to Harrisonburg and got involved with public safety. However, I do remember living in Liberty Square my first year out of school when the caravan of police, fire and rescue went past my house with lights on. I freaked. I ran up and got my roommate because Sean wasn’t home, and asked if he knew what was going on. I thought there was a fugitive, a stand-off, or maybe a bomb! It was crazy. And now, I ride the bus and watch the people watch us roll by with confused looks…that used to be me. One lady was gardening and just stood there with a trowel not knowing what to think. The only hint of what’s going on is the bus’s sign saying “Special” and “National Night Out”.

It’s a wonderful event where the public safety officers, city counsel members, and others gather with the community to talk safety. The purpose is to get neighbors to talk to each other about problems or potential problems. It’s to get the citizens comfortable with the people in uniform. They aren’t scary (unless you’re doing something wrong) I promise! For someone who wants to get involved in social marketing, this is the best event I can possibly do!

I was with Harrisonburg Fire Department representing Safe Kids. My job was to give out “Junior Firefighter” pins and plastic fire hats. But while doing it, I was talking to the kids about what they do when the smoke detector goes off and how they get out. My favorite questions was, “What does the smoke detector sound like?” The kids were great and I think they had a lot of fun.

There were five stops this year: 5:00 Court Square; 5:30 Lucy Simms School; 6:15 Harris Gardens; 6:50 Clay Street; 7:25 Purcell Park; 8:00 Mosby Court. The most impressive thing was watching the bicycle officers ride to all these places with us. That, and, the motorcycle officers blocking streets then zooming past with lights and sirens. I think the officers get a kick out of the leapfrogging too 🙂

The groups of people that get together really do a wonderful job. There were big community events with a lot going on, and then there were smaller neighborhood watch events in a backyard. It doesn’t matter how they get together, but the fact that they do, and that they care about the safety of the people around them, is the most important thing. And that’s what we like to see.

For more photos check out Harrisonburg Fire Department’s Facebook Page & Central Shenandoah Valley Safe Kids Coalition’s Facebook Page

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