Legions of local and state police, firefighters and first responders stood tall against the infiltration on Tuesday evening, and their determination to do so resulted in big smiles on the faces of hundreds of children.
The law enforcement personnel moved into position Tuesday afternoon under sunny skies and hot, humid conditions.
But as the start time for National Night Out celebrations in three Valley communities approached, dark and threatening storm clouds advanced toward them.
Cpl. Travis Burrows of the Buffalo Valley Regional Police had previously sent out the battle plan.
“No rain date,” he wrote in an advance notification to all vendors donating their time and services for National Night Out at St. Mary Street Park in Lewisburg. “It’s a rain or shine event. Rain could cancel or delay some things or make us move some things around due to the soft ground,” he noted. But the officer was clear — the event would go on unless thunderstorms became so severe that they would threaten safety.
Dark clouds appeared on the horizon just as the Lewisburg event was starting around 5 p.m. The weather threat was enough to force a pilot to hold off on plans to inflate a huge, full-size hot air balloon and give free tethered balloon rides that evening. As rain moved in, it became clear that the balloon rides would not happen that evening and The Lucky Afternoon Band, which had started to perform, was forced to take a break.
But police, firefighters, first responders and dozens of other volunteers stood firm, greeting the families and children who came with free hot dogs, pizza and snow cones in hand, just to say hello.
The storm slowly moved past, just to the south of Lewisburg, before advancing squarely over Sunbury, where it produced downpours over the National Night Out event in the city. Most of those attending the event in Sunbury ignored the rain.
“We had a good crowd, even in the rain,” said Brad Hare, Sunbury Police Officer in Charge.
National Night Out had its beginnings in the western suburbs of Philadelphia in the early 1980s after a man named Matt spent several years volunteering with a Community Watch program. In 1981, Matt established the National Association of Town Watch, an organization that in August 1984, introduced National Night Out, holding its first event in 400 communities in 23 states.
National Night Out has grown into an “annual community-building campaign that promotes police and community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live,” the organization writes. Millions of people in thousands of communities in all 50 states now hold National Night Out events.
“Some faithful people stood with us, and I’d like to thank them,” Sunbury Officer Hare said as the rain fell Tuesday evening. “I also want to thank the city for doing so well in putting this on.”
We join those who offer their thanks to the volunteers who gave Valley families, especially children, a fun and informative evening, and to police, firefighters and first responders for the life-saving services they provide to all of us every day.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Digital Editor Dave Hilliard.