Clinton’s first ‘Night Out’ delivers

It may have been Clinton’s first National Night Out event but by the looks of the crowd at Newkirk Park Tuesday night, it should not be its last. That’s particularly true since the event, which saw hundreds of people in attendance, did exactly what it was touted to do — forge stronger relationships between neighbors and build on already growing partnerships between the community and law enforcement.

With Mayor Lew Starling, City Council members and city staff rubbing elbows with old and young alike from neighborhoods across Clinton, particularly those who live in and around Newkirk Park, and with varied agencies on hand to help bring awareness, “Night Out” was exactly the kind of neighborhood event that make towns like ours an even better place to live.

For one thing, it speaks volumes about community. Children either played games set up just for the event or enjoyed the playground equipment and the bouncy house as volunteers grilled hamburgers and hot dogs. Folks meandered the grounds, stopping to chat with Council members or visit with law enforcement officers, EMS and fire crews or representatives from various area churches, all there to mix, mingle and share information with attendees.

It was a festival atmosphere with an underlying theme of safety, prevention and camaraderie, all born out of a desire for Clinton and its neighborhoods to come together as we so often do, with one common purpose.

That purpose was evident and so was the fun, making Clinton’s “Night Out” special in its own right, an old-fashioned, educational, down-home family event that had to take attendees back to a simpler time, when life wasn’t so complicated and dangers weren’t thought to lurk just out of sight.

“This is a night for Clinton to stand together to promote awareness, safety and neighborhood unity,” organizers said prior to the event, as they were trying to encourage attendance.

They were correct in that promotion, and we applaud all the efforts that went into planning this community-wide event. Hats are off to new Clinton Police Chief Donald Edwards, resident and community champion Nettie Pernell, the Newkirk Park Committee and myriad other people who offered their time and talents to help make this event a well-attended and special first-time “Night Out.”

Tony-Award winning producer David Binder talked about festivals this way when he said: “(events) promote diversity, they bring neighbors into dialogue, they increase creativity, they offer opportunities for civic pride, they improve our general psychological well-being. In short, they make cities better places to live.”

His words aptly portrayed what we believe “Night Out” did for neighbors in and around Newkirk Park and beyond.

We believe the event was well worth the time it took to organize and not only do we urge organizers to make this an annual event we encourage residents across the city to join in, making an already great event that much better.