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A Night Out for food, fun and crime prevention
By TIM KELLY
Ideal weather, free hot dogs and pop, a bouncy house for kids and a local band doing a passable job cranking out classic rock.
That's a slam dunk for a fun evening on the waterfront, plus Tuesday's community get-together at Marina Park was infused with awareness-raising.
"I would have brought more kids with me but my car's not big enough," said Eileen Wolf, who brought her two children, ages 7 and 12, and a neighbor boy to the National Night Out event sponsored by the Port Orchard Police Department.
Wolf, a nurse who has a third child on the way, carried a few plastic bags with pamphlets and other items handed out at various booths.
"We got some good information on bicycle safety, bullying and Internet safety," she said.
Her kids are growing up in a community where crime has gone down significantly in recent years, as Mayor Larry Coppola noted in his brief remarks to the crowd at the event.
This was the second year the police department held a community event on the National Night Out, though event coordinator Officer Maureen Wheeler said there have been smaller neighborhood gatherings in previous years.
At the police department booth, red, white and blue helium-filled balloons were available along with prevention-themed handouts on graffiti, texting while driving, cyberbullying, sexual assault and other topics.
Getting to climb in the South Kitsap Fire Rescue truck, with its 100-foot ladder extended above the parking lot, was a big draw for youngsters.
For adults, there were options such as signing up for a Refuse To Be A Victim seminar, which stresses crime prevention and violence avoidance, according to Phil Murray, a regional counselor for the grant-funded program.
All in all, the event seemed to meet its aim of bringing people together to enjoy a summer night and to leave with a better understanding of how to help keep their community safe.
"Mostly the idea is for people to have more of an awareness of what's available to them for crime prevention and safety," Wheeler said. "It's a family fun and festive event, but it's also an informative night."