08/06/14 — National Night Out

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National Night Out

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 6, 2014 2:06 PM

More than 1,000 local residents poured into Herman Park Tuesday night to mingle with law enforcement, county, city and community representatives, and with each other.

The 31st Annual National Night Out was, by all accounts, a success.

Music could be heard as far away as parking had to be located -- blocks away.

"We put a new flavor on it this year, and with a new flow," Cpl. Marissa Davis said.

Ms. Davis, along with Cpls. Robbie Jones and Ronald McDuffie, coordinate the event each year out of the Goldsboro Police Department's Crime Prevention office.

This year, however, the stage was moved to the Herman Street side of the park and faced inward toward the "Lady in the Park" fountain. This forced the crowd to part left and right in a natural circle, which opened up both the traffic flow and the congestion that has seemed to stifle the energy of the event in years past, the organizers said.

"I think it's a great turnout. Moving the stage and the vendors made a more round effect," McDuffie said.

Vendors included the Wayne County Health Department and the Wayne County Partnership for Children, Wayne Uplift, the Democratic Party of Wayne County and the African American Caucus, several churches, U.S. Marine Corps. recruiters, the Goldsboro Lion's Club and the Hit Squad Motorcycle Club, among others.

The Wayne County Health Department's Kissing Booth caught a lot of attention, but for the most part everyone kept their lips to themselves.

Ta-kisha Darden, health education specialist, came up with the idea.

Participants would draw a number from a jar and take the question identified by their number. The subject matter -- STDs. They would receive a kiss for their trouble.

"It is never too early to start talking to children about sex. Parents should talk to their children early and often, about their bodies and what is a good touch and what is a bad touch," Ms. Darden said.

Wayne Uplift volunteers spent their night educating the community about the signs of abuse and domestic violence, offering pamphlets and information packets complete with an escape plan for those who might be in peril.

Not lost amid all the education was the fun and excitement of National Night Out, a night celebrated across the country.

"This is going on all over the nation, on military bases and in cities," Goldsboro police Chief Jeff Stewart.

His attention was immediately taken by a small child who came running up to him and addressed him as "Mr. Jeff."

Everyone else's attention turned to the stage where, after a puppet-gospel ensemble performed a few upbeat numbers on behalf of the Word Faith Center, an African dance team stole the show.

Tricia Haigler and her troupe from Powerflow Fitness performed a Kou Kou, a dance from Guinea, West Africa.

Mrs. Haigler is the owner/operator of the fitness club at 126 E. Walnut St., were she teaches African and Latin dance, boxing and weight training, and a little bit of African history.

"My motto is 'A healthy body breathes a healthy spirit."

The Goldsboro High School band closed the show.