After rain drops put an end to last year’s first National Night Out put on by the Hollin Hall Village Citizens Association (HHVCA), the only drops reaching this year’s were those of sweet success.
In conjunction with the Mount Vernon Park Association (MVPA), this year’s National Night Out was held at the MVPA from 6 to 8 p.m.
“It turned out to be beautiful,” said Margaret Keagle of the HHVCA Neighborhood Watch Committee.
The event was held at the Hollin Hall Senior Center last year, but with rain cutting the night short and leaving no place for attendees and the band to get out of the rain, Keagle said a new location was needed and the cover of MVPA made for a good new venue.
“Last year it rained for a matter of 10 mins. or so, so we could’ve kept going after [the rain] stopped” said Keagle. But since everyone left because of the rain, the night was cut short, she explained. The brick pavilion at MVPA provided that immediate cover in case a short burst of rain were to happen again at this years, and would allow people to stay until the rain stopped.
Despite the visibility to the public the Senior Center had (which is directly off a main road of Hollin Hall Village, while MVPA is tucked away into a no outlet, burrow surrounded by trees) Keagle explained with the playground for the kids, possible increase in attendees from people going to and from the pool area who may not have known about the event, and ease of access for the fire truck, police cars and food truck made for a great second National Night Out put on by HHVCA, in addition to the safe cover of the pavilion.
“I think it’s better to have it here,” she said.
National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, better places to live, meant both the Fairfax County Police and Fire and Rescue departments made appearances. Multiple police cars had open doors, and a fire truck and ambulance showed off their safety gear, all for the kids and families to explore.
In response to being able to check out the equipment, kids wrote thank you notes to the police officers and firemen.
Leo Milanowksi, HHVCA president, spoke to the crowd a little over half way through the night reminding attendees the importance of having a good relationship with your police and fire departments, especially given recent events.
“I think it’s important to have you recognize that the police officers are fine people, [they] are here to help us,” he said. “They’re just ordinary human beings like us. They’ve got a hell of a job to do and they do an awesome job doing it”
Milanowski also went on to state the importance of neighbors speaking up and helping protect the community.
“If we keep our eyes and ears open and make sure that things don’t go wrong in the community, they usually won’t,” he said. “And it’s not just the police who are responsible for that, each one of us are. You see something, you say something.”
“It was better than expected,” said Brendan Harris, park manager at MVPA, after explaining the uncertainty he had of if it would rain that evening or not, and if the park would be able to hold all the potential attendees.
“We’re always excited to do it,” said Richard Fleet of the Fire and Rescue Department, Mount Vernon Station, Station 9. “This makes [the kids] summer.”
In addition to the community bonding between the police and fire departments with the community, Mary and Company provided live music covering classic hits from James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain” to Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay.” Doug the Food Dude food truck also provided some some seafood and barbecue meals.
Attendees did have the option to sign a petition for the Air Traffic Noise Abatement Campaign, which is working to revert aircraft flight patterns to directly over the Potomac River, and not over residential neighborhoods, like they were once before to reduce aircraft noise over homes. Simply on display to help raise awareness of the issue, Keagle said, about 15 signatures of support were obtained.
With the great turnout and fun everyone had at the event, from organizers to participants to attendees, everyone agreed that MVPA would be a great venue again for the event next year on August 1, 2017.
“It was a good opportunity to meet some new neighbors and find out about all the cool activities that are happening in the community and enjoy a good night,” said Cory and Jillian who recently moved to the area with their toddler son.