National Night Out draws crowd

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Members of the community, along with organizations — particularly those in law enforcement and fire and rescue — came out to enjoy fellowship during the National Night Out (NNO) event held at Railroad Park in Victoria last Tuesday, sponsored by BLISS of Lunenburg.

In attendance were members of Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office, Kenbridge Police Department, Victoria Police Department, Virginia State Police and the merged Kenbridge and Victoria Fire and Rescue. Representatives from Klassy Divas and Hiway Ballaz provided free school supplies and raffle prizes to participants and their families.

NNO is celebrated throughout the U.S. and seeks to unite members of the community with law enforcement members to better the relationships between police and the public.

Michael Fowlkes helped pass out school supplies to families during the event. He said the event provided a meaningful way to give back to the area.

“It’s wonderful,” Fowlkes said. “This is my first year doing this. It’s been good to give back to the community.”

Klassy Divas, a social group founded in 2011 that focuses on community-based giving and HiWay Ballaz, a motorcycle club that also serves as a philanthropic organization, have partnered to hold back-to-school events after seeing the impact on the students.
HiWay Ballaz member Kimberly Holliday said at least 200 bags of school supplies were given out this year.

The NNO event drew several organizations from around the area, including event sponsor BLISS of Lunenburg, who also provided bingo at one of the park pavilions, grilled hot dogs and served watermelon. Lunenburg Health Services, Southside Girls Scouts, Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF), the Tri-County Community Action Agency, Woodmen of the World, the Tom Mix Rangers and the Lunenburg County 4-H were among other area organizations involved.

Kids and families got to explore the inside of firetrucks and ambulances, receive face paint and temporary tattoos, take a stint in a jail cell provided by the Tom Mix Rangers and meet and talk with police officers and firefighters.

Costumed characters were also a hit during the event. Kids got to take photos with and hug Spider-Man, Batman, Olaf the Snowman from Frozen and Minions from Despicable Me. Many of the costumes were purchased from BLISS. VDOF provided Smokey the Bear.

Glenda Owen, who dressed as one of the minions, said she enjoyed interacting with kids during the event.

“They just run up and hug you,” Owen said. “They’re so cute and so much fun.”

Lunenburg County Sheriff’s Office Deputy N.A. Madison said his favorite part of the event was interacting with members of the public. He said he hopes the event has helped change public perceptions of law enforcement.

“Getting to talk with the public outside of service,” Madison said of what he enjoyed about the event. “They get to see us as the good guys, and that is really important.”

Members of the merged Kenbridge Emergency Services and Victoria Fire & Rescue were present. Firefighter Christopher Parrish was in uniform and spent time with his nieces and nephews, who attended the event.

Parrish said the event provided a way for people in law enforcement and for people in the towns to speak with police and fire department members outside of a crisis situation.

“It gives us the ability to interact with the public outside of our response,” Parrish said. “They know what we do and who we are.”