The Village of Winchester hosted their second-annual National Night Out event Tuesday, Aug. 4, free for the community to come out and enjoy.
National Night out is a nationwide event that began in 1983 and Winchester Chief of Police David Benjamin plans on holding the event in the future on the first Tuesday in August.
“The first year we were stunned at how the community reacted,” Benjamin said. “It was extremely popular and we learned a lot about what our community wanted.”
This year was very popular as well according to Benjamin. Estimates of those in attendance were about 500-600 people.
“This year we passed out over 60 pizzas, 25 gallons of ice cream, 200 sticks of cotton candy and many other items,” Benjamin said. “We did pass out draw-string backpacks that were very popular too.”
Booths lined the streets in Winchester from area groups which contributed to the community event.
“We had such a variety of booths and contributors that honestly there are too many to list,” Benjamin said. We were glad to have the following groups set up booths – Church 180, I68 Ministries, Cub Scout Troop 290, Adams Recovery, C103, North Adams Knothole, Winchester Methodist Church, Western & Southern Insurance Agency and many, many volunteers.”
The event ran from around 5-10 p.m. and Benjamin said a number of people were still enjoying themselves at closing time.
Benjamin said the basis for the event is to build a bond between emergency services personnel and the general public. Workers at the event wore t-shirts with the phrase “Say nope to dope” on the back.
“The main reason for the event is to build a relationship between our emergency services and the community,” Benjamin said. “That being said we do focus on the anti-drug theme because of the current impact it has on our entire county. We may change our focus in the future if we see an existing concern that is better suited.”
Benjamin said he believes Winchester needs events like this to come together and grow.
“We are definitely going to make this an annual event,” Benjamin said. “The community truly enjoys it and needs this time of fellowship.”
Benjamin believes a way to strengthen the event in future years is to have children perform tasks that focus on safety.
“We are always looking to add activities to get the kids involved and one thing that worked really well this year were the quizzes we passed out,” Benjamin said. “The kids had to speak with a firefighter, EMT and police officer to get the correct answers and in return they received a dog tag with the National Night Out emblem and a free ice cream from Reid’s Dairy Bar. We would like to add some safety activities that would challenge the youth to think about the safe way to perform a task.”