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A National Night In 

Suffolk enjoyed a night in this week instead of an annual, award-winning night out.

National Night Out 2020 became National Night In due to COVID-19. A video premiered at 6 p.m. Oct. 6 on the city’s Municipal Channel, Spectrum Channel 190.

Every first Tuesday in August, across the nation and parts of Canada celebrate the National Night Out crime, drug and gang awareness event. This event is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored locally by the Suffolk Police Department.

In a typical year, parks and businesses are filled with families and public safety professionals enjoying a night of fun and building connections. Instead, the community was encouraged to participate in their own way at home. To kick off the night, a video premiered that highlighted the event from past years and had local leaders share what they love about National Night Out.

“The interaction that we have with our citizens is probably one of the things that we are most proud of as an agency,” said Suffolk Police Interim Chief Al Chandler in the video. “The fact that in National Night Out we can come out, we can just enjoy some time to be with citizens, to just fellowship and have a good time. To really be able to talk and communicate, it’s not a business thing, but an opportunity for us to be with our citizens and for us to as well be reminded about this great relationship that we have is something worth celebrating.”

The original date for National Night Out was Aug. 4. Due to COVID-19, it was postponed to Oct. 6. Instead of separate events spread throughout Suffolk, it would be a big concert to bring everyone together and celebrate the theme, “Create Community Connections.” Sadly, COVID-19’s gathering restrictions have not gone away as soon as everyone hoped. Despite the distance, Suffolk still united separately as front porch lights were left on to show solidarity in seeing public safety members in a positive light.

“As mayor of the city of Suffolk, I know first-hand that National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and those in public safety while strengthening our true sense of community,” said Suffolk Mayor Linda Johnson in the video. “While due to COVID-19 we can’t celebrate National Night Out this year as we usually do, we don’t want to miss the opportunity to recognize the pride, appreciation and respect that we have not only for each other and our city but also for our amazing public safety professionals and first responders. In these troubling times across our nation, it is more important now than ever before to share our messages of gratitude with those who have sworn to protect us.”

Suffolk has been involved with National Night Out for more than 20 years. For 14 of those years, Suffolk has placed in the top five. Five of those years, the city placed first in its population catregory. Suffolk is already making plans to come back better than ever for National Night Out 2021.

“The world has changed in 2020,” said Suffolk Fire and Rescue Chief Michael Barakey in the video. “It will be known as the year of change. In 2021, we will be able to come back out in August to break bread and look at fire trucks and hang out with the community and our partners, and everyone comes out, and we celebrate. So, I think 2021 it will be a year of celebration.”

Mark your calendar for Aug. 3, 2021, to celebrate National Night Out as a community again. Watch the video at suffolknno.com.