Community members, law enforcement and other organizations came together in Dunn Tuesday night for the 34th National Night Out. According to Mayor Oscar Harris, it is the 35th anniversary of the national event and Dunn has been hosting it almost since its inception.
The event in Dunn was held for the second year at Tyler Park after moving from Tart Park, a move organizers say has benefited the get-together. It is a coordinated effort between Dunn CrimeStoppers and Dunn Police.
Meanwhile, over at Western Harnett High School, during the same time, the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office hosted National Night Out for the second time.
Despite the intense heat, there was a good showing for the community connection event in Dunn.
There was free food, plenty of cold water, music, dancing, a fun run, children’s games, giveaways and vendors.
It’s wasn’t just for children. Wanda Massey, Dorothy Brown and Phyllis Massey — all adults — have been coming for years. They got there a little early and set themselves up under one of the tents which had tables and chairs.
“We always come and this is our annual thing,” Ms. Brown said. “We enjoy it. You get to see the mayor up close. You see a lot of people you haven’t seen. As long as they’ve had it, we’ve been coming.”
William Dunman, 11, of Dunn was enjoying a doughnut and a hot dog. “It’s good,” he said of the event. His mother said they come every year.
The evening started out with the Rev. Floyd Ray offering prayer.
“This is another day we have never seen before and another day we will never see again,” he prayed.
He prayed for the mayor, city officials and all the first responders.
“God, we ask that you bless our children,” he said, adding to the prayer to keep them safe.
American Legion Post 59 posted the colors and a recording of patriotic songs was played as those in attendance either uncovered their heads or put their hands over their hearts like Sherri Addison and Dale Stanley did.
Mayor Oscar Harris gave the welcome and credited the dozens of volunteers who spent hundreds of hours to make National Night Out possible. He credited the public safety officials and CrimeStoppers which received dozens of tips during the previous year. (The CrimeStoppers’ number is 910-892-2222. Callers can remain anonymous and can qualify for cash rewards if their tip to a crime leads to an arrest and conviction. The phone line is answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week.)
Dunn Police Chief Chuck West, who had all his officers dressed in uniforms, not plain clothes, also spoke.
“It’s just good to see everyone out,” he said. “CrimeStoppers is an awesome organization.”
He called Dunn a “great place to live” and asked those in attendance if they see a first responder to go up and thank them.
He also recognized Coats Police Chief Jeremy Hall who was making his first public appearance since his cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Chief Hall was given a special award by Patrick Riley, Dunn CrimeStoppers president. Other award earners were John Riley, former CrimeStoppers president and Dunn Rotary Club president, a sponsor of National Night Out; and Butch Halpin, a Dunn Police officer and disc jockey for the night.
James Davis and sister, La’Mani Surles, were joined by their good friend, Aleeyah McKoy, eating and playing games Tuesday night.
Javion Raines, Davonte Jones, Tavion Raines and Donald “Saucy Dip” Plummer were helping themselves to free hot dogs. They are all Dunn Police Athletic and Academics League (PAL) participants and members of the PAL Wildcats basketball team.
Siblings Quincy, 3, Aalijah, 6, and Amoria McByrde, 8, were having a ball playing games. They came with their mom and aunt.
Zy’Keem Byrd, 13, had been a PAL member but had moved to Spring Lake. He said he came back to Dunn to attend National Night Out and was busy playing cornhole with his friends.
All in all, National Night Out offered something for everyone and let many interact with several law enforcement agencies.