Fighting crime

Published 11:13 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

From left, Tyler Bordeaux, Jake Bordeaux, Cody Durick, Nicholas Gonzalez, Mallory Hodges and Ryan Carter show off their face paints, balloon swords and community spirit at the Driver National Night Out celebration on Tuesday.

Suffolk came together for National Night Out on Tuesday in more than 50 neighborhoods around the city.

Thousands of residents celebrated the annual crime prevention and community partnership event, which began with a kickoff at the Hall Place neighborhood.

UFL coach Marty Schottenheimer makes remarks at the kickoff event in the Hall Place neighborhood.

“It never fails to be one of the greatest nights of the year,” Mayor Linda

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T. Johnson said at the kickoff. “It’s just a lot of fun, but as we have fun, we don’t forget what it’s all about.”

The theme for the 2011 National Night Out event is “It Takes a

Neighborhood.” Virginia Destroyers head coach Marty Schottenheimer remarked on the importance of being surrounded by successful people.

“Most frequently, we become the product of those who surround us when we are in our youth,” he said. “When you are involved with the right kind of people, you have a chance to be successful in whatever your endeavor might be.”

After the kickoff, public safety and elected officials set off on motorcades throughout the city, fanning out visit to the 50-plus neighborhoods having cookouts, block parties and other celebrations. They convened at the end of the night at two different locations, Chuckatuck and Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority.

At the Burbage Grant event, neighbors came together at the neighborhood clubhouse to enjoy a cookout along with various activities, including face painting, arts and crafts, and games.

Rhonda Tepper, one of the event coordinators, said she wanted the event to bring neighbors together for the cause of fighting crime.

“This is a goodbye party to crime and gangs,” she said.

Burbage Grant resident Donna Purky said her family came to the event last year, and her son had such a good time he has been asking to come back since last August.

“He had so much fun last year,” she said. “He couldn’t wait.”

At the same time as the Burbage Grant event, Driver residents gathered at the Knot Hole Station to celebrate the night with food, fun and, of course, a cornhole tournament.

Jessie Gonzalez lives and works in Driver, and she said she attended to show her support for her community.

“I’m here as part of the community,” she said. “I support anything for the community.”

In Chuckatuck, where the event concluded, community members gathered at the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Station for the event, which was sponsored by the Greater Oakland and Chuckatuck Civic League.

In addition to its sponsorship, the civic league also used leftover funds from the event to purchase and give out school supplies, such as notebooks and colored pencils, to attendees.

Civic league member Dorothy Gamble said she is using her work with the civic league to reach out the community’s children after she lost a bid for the Chuckatuck School Board seat last year.

“This is my way of keeping involved with the children,” she said.

Civic league president Roosevelt Jones said he’s always wanted to put on an event that brings the community together.

“This is my dream,” he said. “Everything you see here is my dream.”

“I think everybody’s having a great time,” said Carol Warren of the Holland Ruritan Club. “The weather’s not too bad.”

Hundreds of people convened on Holland’s Ruritan Park for a Caribbean-themed party. Some came in “Pirates of the Caribbean” costumes. Others played with beach balls or brought blow-up flamingos. One group even made balloon swords for the children.

At Whaleyville’s party, the Ruritan Club served up hot dogs, brought out bounce houses for the children and gave away school supplies.

“We just wanted to try to get the community together and do something as a community,” said Gary Dunne, president of the Whaleyville Ruritan Club. “We didn’t have anything to do in the cold,” he joked.

At all the events, the common goal of fighting crime and promoting partnerships between residents and law enforcement took center stage.

“I’m just amazed at the turnout each and every year,” Delegate Chris Jones said at the kickoff.