Thousands participate in local NNO

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Suffolk’s National Night Out celebrations were deemed a success Wednesday by the community leaders who organized the events.

“Our neighbors thoroughly enjoyed it,” saidDonna Perry, a resident of the Kingsboro neighborhood and coordinator of her community’s celebration. “It’s not often the chief of police comes into your neighborhood and greets all your neighbors, and we love it and we’re ready for next year.”

Throughout Suffolk, more than 50 communities participated in National Night Out activities by turning on their porch lights and going outside to spend time with neighbors. Community organizers in the Bethlehem and Holland neighborhoods estimated attendance at their events at more than 800.

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City leaders acknowledged the heavy participation, though they did not have exact numbers available Wednesday.

“We were very impressed with the amount and levels of community participation in this year’s National Night Out,” Debbie George, city spokeswoman, said. “It was great to see many communities and businesses join in for the first time with this year’s celebration.”

Diana Klink, chair of the National Night Out committee, echoed George’s statement.

“Last night’s National Night Out events were a record breaker for the city of Suffolk,” she wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. “When you consider temperatures were in the high 90s throughout the evening, it was amazing to see the thousands of people coming together in the true spirit of community partnerships.”

In Holland, “Madagascar” went up on the big screen as twilight fell, after a full evening of activities that included inflatable jump houses, a cornhole tournament, children’s activities and more.

In addition, Holland coordinator Carol Warren got the chance to sell National Night Out to a woman who came to the celebration all the way from North Carolina.

“She was very interested in trying to do it next year in Gates County,” Warren said. She told the woman to get involved with her police department, she said.

“It was really good to see a lot of youth,” Warren said, noting businesses in the Holland area had been supportive of the event.

In the Kingsboro neighborhood, Perry said, neighbors who had lived near each other for years were sitting down and talking to each other for the first time.

“We have new neighbors that have moved in,” Perry said. “It’s really a good way for them to network and get to know the neighbors.”

Perry applauded city leaders for making National Night Out possible.

“The citizens of Suffolk just thank the city, the police department, the fire department, the sheriff’s department, for allowing the citizens to take place in such a successful event,” she said. “In many cities, the police department doesn’t get involved in it.”

At the National Night Out kick-off at the new police administration building Tuesday, Police Chief Thomas Bennett said he was impressed with the level of cooperation between the community and law enforcement in Suffolk. Donna Perry agrees.

“Other localities don’t do that,” Perry said. “They don’t give the support. Suffolk is so unique in the citizen/police partnership, because the police department is so accommodating and so supportive in making the community a part of it,” Perry said.

“It’s important that the citizens do cooperate. We need to be the eyes and ears of the police department … not just on National Night Out, but every day of the year.”