NEW HANOVER COUNTY – Thunderstorms held off just long enough Thursday evening as area law enforcement and hundreds of community members — adults and children of all ages — gathered in Wilmington and Carolina Beach for “National Night Out.”
The event is celebrated annually on the first Tuesday of August as a community building campaign promoting community-police relationships across the country, in U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide, according to the National Night Out website.
Two events took place with local law enforcement, military and emergency responders to celebrate in the Wilmington area — one in the parking lot of Target, 4711 New Centre Drive, and another at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk Gazebo on Cape Fear Boulevard.
Wilmington police, along with Target and Mission BBQ staff, met with children and community members. Wilmington police took photos and met with adults and children alike. Some of them shoppers who stopped by to see what the activity was all about. Target hosted a bike raffle, games and other child activities, while Mission BBQ provided some snacks and take home items.
Several adults and children left the parking lot area with a Wilmington police sticker, a photo with an officer and a smile. The event is important for Wilmington officers to help build community relationships, Officer Brandon Chisholm said.
“It’s in a safe environment for people to have fun, get something to eat and come out to talk to us. They get to see our vehicles and ask any questions,” Chisholm said.
In Carolina Beach, crowds were bustling among the many booths and activities for the event at the town’s boardwalk.
Members of the Carolina Beach Police and Fire Departments, Kure Beach Police Department, New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Coast Guard set up booths and activities.
Coast Guard members showed off several weapons and allowed citizens to tour one of their small rescue boats. The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office took the opportunity to get some parents involved in their Child ID program. New Hanover County Sheriff Ed McMahon joined deputies to help measure and weigh kids for their child identification cards, which were printed on the spot.
The town has been hosting National Night Out for many years, according to Carolina Beach Police Chief Chris Spivey. The police chief said he was pleased with the turnout at this year’s event, which is held every year not only for law enforcement, but local military and emergency personnel.
“National Night Out in some form or fashion has been in existence for just over 30 years,” Spivey said. “It’s a time where the community, especially families, will come out on a summer evening right before school starts back and get to mingle with all of the emergency responders in the area.”