Crowds enjoyed food, music, inflatable games and other down-home entertainment last week during the second annual National Night Out event in York.
A block of Roosevelt Street in front of York City Hall and the police and fire departments was blocked Aug. 6 as dozens of people played cornhole, chomped hot dogs, checked out police vehicles, petted Sheriff’s Office horses and grabbed address kits from York County 911.
York Police Chief Andy Robinson, whose department organized the event, said police decided to centralize the location to bring the community together and equally share resources. Last year, he said, the event was held at five sites in the city.
“We felt like we were able to reach more people doing it this way,” he said.
Robinson said the York County Sheriff’s Office agreed to handle calls for the city during the two-hour celebration so all of the city’s 23 police officers could be there to participate.
Robinson said he was pleased with the healthy turnout — as evidenced by the approximately 1,000 hot dogs served. Shaved ice, frozen yogurt and other fair foods also were available free of charge.
Robinson said such events help police establish a connection with people in the community. Officers like Lt. Gwinn Jimor played an inflatable basketball game with children.
“Usually the interactions citizens have with police are negative,” Robinson said. “This is kind of a way for us to interact on a positive level and have a good experience with police.”
He said it’s also a way for police to give something back to the community. The department collected donations to fund the free food, and churches and other local groups sponsored inflatable entertainment, he said.
He said the community connection is important for police to do their job.
“I say it all the time, community policing, we can’t do it without the community,” he said. “The extra ears and eyes out on the streets and neighborhoods, definitely helps us do our jobs.
“This is kind of our way of thanking them and showing them we really do appreciate them,” he said.
Other groups participated. Tender Hearts Ministries in York gave out book bags to children who needed them, he said, and the York County Sheriff’s Office brought its horse patrol.
Robinson said all the York city officers volunteered their time during the event.
“I owe them a lot of respect for the hard work they put into planning it and making sure it was a successful event,” he said.
Michelle Lowry, 34, said this year’s event was much better than last year’s. Her friend, Aiesha Rashid, 40, walked by as she feasted on cotton candy. She recently moved to York from North Carolina.
“I thought York was too small” to pull off an event “like this,” she said. “I’m really impressed.”