08/07/13 — National Night Out draws big crowds in Goldsboro, Mount Olive

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National Night Out draws big crowds in Goldsboro, Mount Olive

By John Joyce and Josh Ellerbrock
Published in News on August 7, 2013 1:46 PM

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Marissa Battle, 2, enjoys a hot dog at the National Night Out held in Herman Park Tuesday evening.

Herman Park was packed from end to end Tuesday night as the community poured out in droves to support National Night Out's 30th gathering.

Children with painted faces and stickers on their shirts ran, and jumped and played hide-and-seek in the snaking lines around food vendors, sponsors' booths and the featured attraction, two giant inflatable hamster balls.

Brandi Croom and her son, 6-year-old Million Edwards, were enjoying their first time at the community outing.

"Well, we heard there was going to be a lot going on and they were going to be giving out school supplies," Ms. Croom said.

Million's eyes never left the hamster ball he was waiting patiently in line to climb into.

"He's going into the first grade this year," she said.

The Goldsboro Police and Fire departments were on hand, and each had their Explorer posts out in uniform and engaging the community.

The GPD Mobile Command unit was posted in the park with an array of weapons on display and garnered a lot of attention from the young people.

Positive Influences and other educational organizations had tables set up with free notebooks and pencil packs for kids getting ready to return to the classroom.

In Mount Olive, National Night Out drew over 100 down into Nelson Street Park, where attendees enjoyed free hot dogs, pickles and watermelon while listening to gospel music and getting to know local patrolmen.

Patrol cars filled the parking lots as representatives from the Mount Olive Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff's Office, the Duplin County Sheriff's Office and the Mount Olive Fire Department were "on scene" last night to mingle with the community.

Town Manager Charles Brown encouraged those attending to introduce themselves to at least one patrolman before the night ended.

"These are the people you need to know," Brown said. "Introduce yourselves to one of these individuals, because they are the folks who are keeping us safe at night."

The Mount Olive National Night Out was organized by the Men of FIC (Faith, Integrity and Character) with the help of the Mount Olive Police Department.

Meanwhile, back in Goldsboro, musical acts were gracing the stage and entertaining the crowd while the community mingled, something Bret Howard said she was glad her grandchildren got a chance to see.

"It's great to get them out here and have everybody mingle and have fellowship," she said.

The Goldsboro Police Department's Crime Prevention Unit coordinates the event each year and Cpl. Marisa Davis emceed the early portion of the show, which included introductions and gifts presented to sponsors, and a message from youth minister and Pastor Terry Jones.

"It's just amazing," Jones said. He was also the keynote speaker at last year's National Night Out.

"It's a whole different animal with so many people. It's great to see us all out, loving on each other."