The Ocean City Police Department will hold its annual National Night Out 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7, at the Dick Grimes Sports Complex at Sixth Street and Bay Avenue
The carnival-like event is sponsored by the Ocean City Policemen's Benevolent Association Local No. 61 and is free to all members of the community.
National Night Out began in 1984, when Matt Peskin, executive director of the National Association of Town Watch, found that in a typical community only five to seven percent of town residents actively took part in community watches.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie,” Peskin says on the National Night Out website. “While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, NNO does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year. It is a night to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes — and to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”
NNO is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for anti-crime programs, strengthen neighborhood spirit, and to send a message to criminals that their community is organized and will fight back. NNO has shown itself to be highly effective in raising community awareness for local police departments and in fighting for a safer nation.
Simultaneous events in different municipalities happen on the first Tuesday of every August. That first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated. And the event has grown steadily over the years, with variations ranging from block parties to cookouts, parades, visits from police, fairs, contests and rallies. The 28th annual NNO last summer involved 37 million people in 15,110 communities from all 50 states.
Patrolman Michael Gray of the Ocean City Police Department is helping to organize this year’s event.
“When the Ocean City Police Department first started to participate in NNO, we would set up a table at the Music Pier and hand out informational pamphlets," Gray said. "We felt that this was too impersonal. We wanted to bring awareness as well as bring the community together. What better way than to have a carnival?”
“The main goal,” Gray said, “is creating a free, fun, family environment for everyone to come out, enjoy themselves and receive some free education at the same time.”
Gray said that, thanks to the support of the Ocean City PBA Local No. 61, they were able to make this event a huge success by enabling them to move from one table at the Music Pier to the Carnival at the ball fields at Sixth and Bay.
“If it weren’t for their generous donations, this night wouldn’t happen,” Gray said.
There will be some new added attractions this year to the carnival. Canine demonstrations will take place, and barbecue style food will be cooked on grills donated by Berger Realty.
“We were asked by Bobby Koop if we would be interested in donating grills for the PBA to use during their yearly events. We said sure, because we are always willing to support the municipalities,” Berger Realty's Matt Bader said.
These grills will be used at many events for the OCPD, including the block parties that take place twice a year.
Gray is proud of the new additional attractions to the Ocean City NNO.
“This year we’ve added some carnival games for the kids to participate in for a chance to win prizes," Gray said. "We still have the inflatable bouncers, face painting, music and the crowd favorite: dunk tanks.”
Gray adds that this year, participants may actually get to soak not only the local policemen, but also some of the faculty and staff from the Ocean City School
“It’s a great time for the entire family,” Gray added. “We encourage all ages to come out and have a fantastic evening.”
NATIONAL NIGHT OUT
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 7
Where: Ball fields at Sixth Street and Bay Avenue
What: Food, music, carnival games, dunk tanks, inflatable bouncers, educational exhibits and demonstrations and more.
How much: Free