UPDATED: More than 400 people attend Washington’s tenth National Night Out 

Published 2:05 pm Thursday, August 3, 2023

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If you were unable to attend National Night Out on Tuesday night (Aug. 1), then you missed seeing “priceless moments” between local public safety members interacting with the community, according to Sarah Godley, crime prevention and community outreach administrator for Washington Police Department. The event was held at Beebe Memorial Park in Washington. 

National Night Out is an annual event hosted by many communities across the country to promote positive relationships between members of public safety and the citizens they serve. Not only were Washington Police Department and Fire Services in attendance, but so were Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Highway Patrol, N.C. Department of Public Safety Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, North Carolina Division of Adult Probation and Parole and Beaufort County Crime Stoppers.

“Having the opportunity to be able to see a fireman or a police officer playing a game with you, playing ball with you – I think that is something that is priceless,” Godley said. 

For the last ten years, a National Night Out event has been hosted in Washington. This year’s event was one of the most well attended by both residents and vendors. By Godley’s estimate, there were between 400 and 450 people who attended, and 34 vendors. 

These vendors included organizations whose missions is to help improve the wellbeing and quality of life of residents and families such as Agape Health, Beaufort-Hyde Partnership for Children, ECU Health Beaufort Hospital, ReCover Outreach Ministry, Cornerstone Community Program and others. 

“This year we definitely saw more diverse participation in both vendors and residents,” said Abigail Cabrera, Latino Community Outreach & Language Access Coordinator for the City of Washington who added there was a “significant increase” in the number of Latino residents who attended Washington’s National Night Out. 

She continued to say, “the City of Washington is focused on being a more inclusive city so we promoted this event to ensure that all residents feel like they are part of the community,” Carera said. 

To do this, Carera said the City created a second flier written in Spanish for Latino residents in addition to meeting with Latino churches and organizations to promote National Night Out. Inner Banks Legal Services and AMEXCAN were specifically invited, because they offer services to the Latino population. 

Carera added that for her, “it was amazing to see the increase in the number of Latino participants.” She believes events like National Night Out can be the start of a “trusting relationship” between Latino residents and public safety. 

National Night Out events help the community see what the City of Washington can offer all residents, Carera said. 

What made National Night Out a success, through Godley’s eyes, was its “effectiveness” and the intentionality behind it. “Our intent has been successful,” Godley said, noting the event helped create more partnerships between the City of Washington Police Department and local organizations including the Beaufort County Health Department and Department of Social Services. 

“The participation was overwhelming. People were very excited,” Godley said. 

At National Night Out, free hot dogs, popcorn and watermelon were served in addition to food trucks selling desserts. There were inflatables and games for children as well as music and raffle prizes. 

The next two events on Godley’s and Carera’s calendars are an annual luncheon for seniors at the Grace Martin Harwell Senior Center and a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month on Sept. 30 at Mac Bear Hodges Festival Park in downtown Washington.