08/08/12 — A night out with some friends

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A night out with some friends

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 8, 2012 1:46 PM

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Marine Corps recruit Reginald Santifer, right, helps Shaniya Ward, 3, do a pull-up as Edgard Herrera, left, cheers her on at an activity booth during the 29th Annual National Night Out late Tuesday night at the Herman Park Center. The event featured live music and entertainment, free food, games and face painting. National Night Out is an annual event organized by the law enforcement agencies as a way to bring together local communities and their local law enforcement.

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Samantha Casey plays her fiddle alongside her father Daniel, not seen, during the singing of the national anthem.

There was standing room only Tuesday in the Herman Park Center as National Night Out moved indoors to escape the stormy weather.

But organizers said the 29th annual gathering of community members and law enforcement personnel, which was hosted by the Goldsboro Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff's Office and the city's Housing Authority, was a success despite the rain.

"They're still coming in," said Cpl. Marissa Davis, one of the Goldsboro officers in charge of the event.

About 900 people -- adults and children -- enjoyed the music, face painting and scores of concessions as they mixed and mingled.

Youth for God, a group of talented young singers and musicians organized and led by 11-year-old Semira Mitchell, welcomed everyone with song and later performed.

"We're all kin folk. We've been playing and singing together for more than a year," Semira's father, Alando Mitchell said.

Retired Air Force veteran and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base volunteer Randolph Agustus, of Goldsboro, was among those who came out to show his support. The living historian is a member of the Virginia chapter of Buffalo Soldiers and recounted the history of the fierce fighters who gained fame in the Old West escorting wagons east, earning the respect of Indian warriors and later rode with Teddy Roosevelt in Cuba.

"They had the first-ever black female soldier," he said. "She'd dress up like the fellas and fight alongside them."

And while he couldn't recall the female soldier's name, and although she was later found out and expelled, Agustus said, her story was still one of bravery and sacrifice for the greater good by one individual.

And that was in keeping with the message shared by those who spoke at the National Night Out -- Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders, Police Chief Jeff Stewart and the night's keynote speaker, Terry Jones.

This should be one community united to keep its residents and children safe.

It is time to come together and work together," Winders said.

The sheriff and other speakers called on families, specifically with young children, to begin at home what continues in school and throughout the community: The raising of children who know right from wrong and who make the right decisions.

"Maturity is measured by the ability to make sound decisions," Jones later said. "I don't want to preach to you tonight but there is some principle here."

Jones shared stories of the wisdom of Solomon and mixed in amusing anecdotes from his own family, challenging his audience to view a perspective larger than just their own households.

"Direction determines your destination," Jones said. He then had the audience repeat the mantra three times before wrapping up and letting the bands and carnival atmosphere take over.

For the children in attendance, the destination was the popcorn being handed out by Target. For Goldsboro, the destination will continue to be rallying together as a community to find solutions and solve problems as they arise.

"I'm going to get in there and talk to the people, see where I can help," Stewart said. "That's what tonight's about."