UNION CITY — The “good guys” will be out in full force Tuesday evening at Caflisch and Devereaux parks.
Union City Borough Police, the Union City Family Support Center and the United Way of Erie County will hold the sixth annual National Night Out from 6 to 9 p.m. to promote community safety — especially for children.
Firefighters, borough and state police officers, school bus drivers, a K-9 officer and his canine from Edinboro University, a service dog from New Hope Assistance Dogs Inc. of Warren and others will be on hand to mingle with kids and their families. Fire trucks, school buses, police cars and, weather permitting, a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter, also will be on display.
“We want everyone to know that these are good guys,” said Brad McGarry, executive director of the Union City Support Center. “This gives kids exposure to first responders.”
The free event, held each year on the first Tuesday in August, coincides with the 27th annual National Night Out sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Its purpose is to heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness, generate support for anti-crime programs, and strengthen neighborhood spirit and community partnerships with police and firefighters.
United Way awarded $1,000 grants to the Union City Police Department and the support center to help pay for the event.
Although Union City hosts the event, anyone from neighboring communities is invited to attend.
“This is a community event,” McGarry said.
The parks will be teeming with activity.
The fire department will demonstrate its new thermal imaging camera.
Mangel’s Bus Service will have an information booth set up for bus safety, and Amanda’s Notary and Messenger Service will have an information booth set up.
There will also be a kids’ sawdust pit with prizes and a boy’s bike and a girl’s bike will be raffled off.
The police department will fingerprint children for identification cards, provide information on gun safety, and offer free gun locks for parents.
A limited supply of free bicycle helmets will be given away to children on a first-come, first-served basis.
Also, the police department hopes to give away kitchen fire extinguishers.
Dinner is on the house, too. Hot dogs, beverages and snacks will be given away to all in attendance.
The main course, however, is giving families a chance to meet with the people in the community who keep them safe. Meeting first responders and others is especially important for children, who sometimes are apprehensive about people in uniform, McGarry said.
“The officers at National Night Out try to make it fun, so kids are not intimidated by the uniform,” McGarry said. “They’re there to give the kids a high five.”
Giving children a firsthand look at police cars, helicopters, ambulances and fire trucks also teaches an important lesson to kids.
“When kids see a fire truck, most of the time it’s at a parade or some traumatic event,” McGarry said. “When they see those trucks flying to an accident or fire, they’ll be able to feel more comfortable because they’ve seen that truck before. They’ll also see the good work the first responders are doing for the community.”
McGarry hopes to see a large turnout at the event, which will be held rain or shine.
“We want to get everybody out for safety awareness,” he said. “It’s a good time to get together and say ‘Hi’ to each other.”