As with each year, each NNO has its own personality. I’ve been going with the motorcade since 2009 so I’ve seen changes in organizers, community stops, and even a change in police chief. But we always get a good turn out and I get to be in the community with people I don’t know well, but get to know throughout the evening.
The back of the bus was the place to be! We had the City Mayor, two council members, the City Manager, the Assistant City Manager, the Public Information Officer, the head of Auxiliary Police, and a police captain all in the back. This will come into play a little later. But anyway, the motorcade consists of a bunch of vehicles aside from the bus. We had motorcycle officers (Traffic Unit), Emergency Communication Center vehicle, fire vehicle, and a ton of police cars. You really couldn’t miss us! I even suggested to the mayor to add flashing lights to the top of one bus so we fit in. But the coolest part of the motorcade were the bike cops (I’ve gotten to know a few and they are good guys but I like to joke around with them). Even though they got a few minutes head-start, they kept up with us really well and still interacted when we got to the next stop! We were all over the city…up and down hills. These guys are hard core. I’d give them a thumbs-up from the bus. I was being supportive! One made a clever suggestion, put his bike on the front of the bus and ride with us. He didn’t, but not a bad idea.
We met a lot of people that night and I love that city council gets involved and gets in the community with events like this. To me, it shows they care. To get the police, council, fire, and ECC folks out there together shows a cohesiveness that I like to see and I’m sure the community does too. I keep telling people, police are people too. They can be hard on you but they can also be your best friend.
Our major event of the evening was a power outage. And not just any power outage, but one that took out ECC phone lines (911). To watch the conversation that then ensued on the bus was interesting to watch. Then at the second to last stop, the higher-ups waited outside the bus and were on their phones trying to assess the situation and come up with a plan. All the cops by two left to man intersections, but of course as soon as they left everything came back on, so we met up at the next stop! I got made fun of a bit because I asked where the Traffic Unit was and I was told they went to be placed, I then asked how we would get through all the intersections (since they would block traffic along with HPD cars so we could go through). I was told, “We’ll follow traffic rules” while he laughed. Fair enough officer…fair enough.
In the end, I gave out lots of lollipops, stickers, and fire hats and had some chats with kids about why you call 911 and why you wouldn’t. The education in the schools is doing great from what I can tell. They usually know the answers to my questions and are happy to tell me. And sometimes I sent them back to their parents suggesting a fire drill at home. This is a great program and I think Harrisonburg does an excellent job with it. Thank you to the community to hosting the various events around the city for us to show up to…and for feeding us. On behalf of all those in the motorcade, we appreciate it!
Big Picture Photo by Wanda Willis