Weatherford residents at 19 different locations celebrated National Night Out on Tuesday evening.
National Night Out aims to promote partnerships between police and the communities they serve. The program started in 1984 through the efforts of a community watch volunteer in Pennsylvania, and 2.5 million neighbors in 400 communities in 23 states participated in the first event, according to the National Night Out website.
Almost 500 cities in Texas participate in National Night Out, according to the website.
Events in Weatherford included food and activities for participants. Staff at Freedom House of Parker County, which offers assistance to those facing sexual or domestic violence, got involved in the event by offering pizza, popsicles, a bounce house and information about the organization’s services.
Several Freedom House staff members said National Night Out is a way to communicate with the community about the resources available to them. Client Advocate Debbie Buckman said the event also helps Freedom House build its relationship with the police and fire departments as well as other agencies that they work with.
“We have to communicate with all the people here in Weatherford and the surrounding towns, and that’s a way to bring everybody together,” Bilingual Domestic Violence Advocate Juanita Perez said.
Advocates in the Crossroads Youth Program also participated in National Night Out. The free program for kids in middle and high school meets twice a week and leads discussions about issues that are relevant to teens.
“We want the community to know that Freedom House just doesn’t help out victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, but also that we have a program that is geared toward teens to guide them through the process of adolescence and help them out,” Advocate Jessica Davenport said.
Advocate John Enright also said kids who participate in Crossroads do not need to be victims of abuse.
“You just have to be a teen, and being a teenager sucks sometimes and you need a place to go talk and have a safe space, and that’s what we want to provide for those teens,” Enright said.
Meadow Vista Senior Apartments celebrated National Night Out with live music from the Texas Eagle Dirt Band and a special appearance by McGruff the Crime Dog.
Some residents said the event allows neighbors to socialize with each other, and they look forward to it every year.
“It’s good for us to get to know each other,” Ginger Cornick said. “And, we hear some really wonderful music and talent, and a couple of them live here.”