Six different parties are planned Tuesday evening in the communities of Jacksonville, Rusk and Bullard to celebrate National Night Out, a community-police awareness-raising event held across the country.
The first event was launched in 1984; today, 16,000 communities participate in NNO, according to www.natw.org.
Locally, celebrations include:
• Bullard – The Bullard Police Department, Bullard Fire Department and other local community partners will host the event at Bullard Children's Park from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free hot dogs and hamburgers will be served, along with prize drawings, games and entertainment planned, such as a cornhole tournament with a $10 entry fee per team. Proceeds will benefit those Tropical Storm Imelda.
In addition to monetary donations, items are being collected for the Imelda victims: Bottled water, canned/nonperishable foods and winter wear (cotton gloves, socks, beanies, handwarmers, etc).
• Jacksonville – The city will have four different events taking place Tuesday: Sweet Union Church will host its annual celebration from 5:30 to 9 p.m. at the 302 N. Main St. church, while Fathers Love ministry's annual event takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at 402 S. Bolton St. They will feature cook-outs, a petting zoo, bounce houses, games and other entertainment.
Smaller neighborhood block parties are planned at Jacksonville Pines Apartments, as well as at a residence in the 900 block of Palestine Street, according to JPD Captain Jason Price.
“Come out and meet community members, socialize with people in the neighborhood and just meet somebody new,” he said. “I'm hoping we can start up the smaller events again.”
Residents interested in future NNO celebrations on a smaller scale are invited to contact the city to request closing streets to provide a safer environment for the gathering, he said. “Just let us know.”
• Rusk – The Rusk Police Department will host its event on the courthouse square from 6-8 p.m., which features free food, music, games and entertainment, along with an opportunity to meet law enforcement personnel from Texas Parks & Wildlife Service, Texas DPS, TDCJ and the local police department, along with emergency responders with the local fire department and EMS. Prize drawings will be held for a boy's and a girl's bicycle, each with a helmet, as well as for a ring doorbell.
“Last year we estimated about 100 people attended, and we think this year's turnout will be as great,” said Rusk Police Sgt. Nate Acker. “Everything is free, so just show up, eat and enjoy everything – it's fun for the whole community.”