Norristown, Ply­mouth hold Na­tional Night Out events

The Colonial - - FRONT PAGE - By Os­car Gam­ble ogam­ble@21st-cen­tu­ryme

First re­spon­ders, pub­lic ser­vants and com­mu­nity groups teamed up for Na­tional Night Out crime aware­ness and pre­ven­tion events across Mont­gomery County Aug. 5.

Hun­dreds showed up at the Metro­plex in Ply­mouth Town­ship and on the 1300 block of Wil­low Street in Norristown for food, fun and free­bies.

The Tar­get park­ing lot in Ply­mouth was cor­doned off as po­lice mo­tor­cy­cles, firetrucks from the Ply­mouth and Har­monville fire com­pa­nies and Ply­mouth’s fa­mous pink am­bu­lance shared space with a Q102 mu­sic booth, food ven­dors from Tar­get and Chick-filA and over a dozen ta­bles staffed by com­mu­nity ad­vo­cates and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from var­i­ous govern­ment agen­cies.

High­lights of the fes­tiv­i­ties in­cluded a re­pelling demon­stra­tion from a fully ex­tended en­gine lad­der by Ply­mouth fire­fight­ers and the land­ing of a Pen­nS­tar he­li­copter.

“It’s so im­por­tant for peo­ple to come out, meet their neigh­bors, get to know lo­cal law en­force­ment and to know what’s avail­able to them,” said County Com­mis­sioner Les­lie Richards, who at­tended the event along with fel­low com­mis­sioner Josh Shapiro. “The sher­iff’s of­fice is out here, vic­tim’s ser­vices, the health de­part­ment, ag­ing and adult ser­vices, the DA’s of­fice. It’s just so im­por­tant for peo­ple to know all the re­sources and ev­ery­body who’s work­ing to­gether to keep them safe in our com­mu­nity.”

“I want to thank the Ply­mouth Po­lice De­part­ment which keeps us safe ev­ery day ... for them to come out on a night like tonight and just have fun with the com­mu­nity is re­ally ter­rific,” Shapiro said

In Norristown, Na­tional Night Out took on the look and feel of an old-fash­ioned block party — par­tially be­cause of the Wil­low Street lo­cale, but also be­cause of the live mu­sic, danc­ing and mas­sive grill be­ing manned by lo­cal vol­un­teers. Po­lice Chief Mark Tal­bot and fire Chief Thomas O’Don­nell were on hand to wel­come res­i­dents, as lo­cal church rep­re­sen­ta­tives and pub­lic ser­vice per­son­nel handed out lit­er­a­ture and con­versed with com­mu­nity mem­bers at curb­side ta­bles.

Chil­dren got their faces painted and scur­ried in and out of a two-tiered fire de­part­ment ve­hi­cle where they could sim­u­late safely es­cap­ing from a burn­ing build­ing.

“It’s great to see lots of places around our county en­gaged with our pub­lic safety com­mu­nity in a way that’s fun, in­ter­ac­tive and friendly,” said Shapiro, “And that’s what it’s all about.”

Na­tional Night Out is the brain­child of Wyn­newood, Pa,. na­tive Matt Pe­skin. He came up with the idea to hold grass­roots get-to­geth­ers as a way for the com­mu­nity to in­ter­act with law en­force­ment and stand as a united front against would-be crim­i­nals.

This year, ap­prox­i­mately 37 mil­lion peo­ple were ex­pected to take part in the Na­tional Night Out ac­tiv­i­ties across the coun­try.

21st Cen­tury Me­dia photo / GENE WALSH

A child wears her fire hel­met back­wards as she and oth­ers cel­e­brate Na­tional Night Out on the 1300 block of Wil­low Street in Norristown Aug. 5.

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