Citizens mingle with first responders

National Night Out brings public servants and community members together

by Julie Gerke
Photos by Olivia Mefford & Julie Gerke

National Night Out brought together several hundred neighbors, friends, first responders and agency volunteers for a block party Tuesday, Aug. 1 at Jacksonville’s Community Park.

Organized by Crime Stoppers of Morgan, Scott and Cass Counties and the Jacksonville Police Department Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni, the annual event is a way for the community to meet first responders, service providers and community groups.

Volunteers at more than 20 booths offered information, toys, games, stickers, face painting and more to festival-goers, with opportunities for everyone from kids to seniors.

First responders from more than a dozen Morgan and Cass county agencies met with boys and girls (and adults) for pictures and conversation, and visitors could peek inside fire trucks, police cars, ambulances and the Air Evac helicopter.

Demonstrations by the Jacksonville Drumline Institute, self-defense options and a police drone drew crowds; drawings for bicycle helmets, kids’ bikes and grocery store gift cards also had high interest.

National Night Out is celebrated across the country each year on Aug. 1. Jacksonville is among 195 communities in Illinois and 17,000 cities nationwide to host an event.

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