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DUNKIRK, NY (WNY News Now) – A nationwide effort to bring residents and first responders together returned to northern Chautauqua County once again this year.
National Night Out falls annually on the first Tuesday of August, and this year, it returned to the City of Dunkirk for the 29th time.
The community-relations campaign, which was first held in 1984, has made its way into over 16 thousand communities across the country.
City officials and residents alike agree that simply coming together in a positive environment goes a long way in building trust with authorities.
“We always make friends when we come to programs like this,” Dunkirk Police Chief David Ortolano explained. “Whether it’s next week or months from now where you’ll run into somebody, they’ll remember you from tonight, and not be afraid of you.”
The opportunity to show what first responders do to help, especially to children, creates not just a more unified community, but a safer one too.
“It’s always good for us to get out and be able to talk to the kids, and the community, in a setting that’s not an emergency,” Dunkirk Fire Chief Michael Edwards said. “They can look at our equipment, and just interact with us.”
With games, face painting, live music, and a movie, kids love the event just as much, if not more, than the law enforcement and fire department officials who organize it.
“I’m sure they have a great time when they get their face painted and get to play with their friends and others,” Chloe, a kid enjoying the festivities said regarding activities for youth.
“It’s a lot of people, so I kind of like that,” Jonathan, another youngster, shared. “You can get some friends, sometimes hang out, you know.”
Coming off of a time where it seems that everyone was isolated from one another, yes, it is possible, and amazingly simple, to bring people together once again.
For more information about National Night Out, visit www.natw.org.
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