LUMBERTON — On Tuesday night, communities across Robeson County will celebrate National Night Out, an annual event that brings together police and the people they serve together in order to promote safety.
The nationwide event, which was established in 1984, is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. More than 16,000 communities participate each year on the first Tuesday in August. This year, that includes Lumberton, Maxton, and Fairmont.
Lumberton’s observance will be held in the downtown plaza from 6 to 9 p.m. It will include a DJ, free pizza, ice cream, and soft drink, as well as inflatable bounce houses and face-painting. The Lumberton Fire Department will set up its smoke house to teach children about fire safety.
With recent clashes between police officers and communities elsewhere in the U.S., Lumberton police Lt. Vernon Johnson said that this year’s event has added significance.
“For us, we are really hoping for a large turnout,” Johnson said. “We are hoping to have the opportunity to have our citizens meet a lot of our officers, mingle together, and get to know each other and try to build better relationships between the Police Department and the community.
“It’s important that the citizens get to meet officers in their community and build relations with officers, and officers get to build relationships with the community, so that we can better serve our community and provide the service they are expecting from us,” he said.
Fairmont’s National Night Out will be held at 6:30 p.m. in Fairmont Community Park. The event will include the Fairmont High School color guard, performances by the Southern Sapphires and local churches, and a classic car display. There will also be giveaways, bounce houses, slides, train rides, music by Mr. P and Friend.
Fairmont Police Chief Kimothy Monroe hopes Fairmont residents will come out.
“We want them to know that we can and will work together, and the Police Department is part of the community,” he said. “I want people to feel they can relate to us, talk to us with any issues that they have. One of the purposes of National Night Out is to promote unity, and promote safer communities. If we can communicate better, it’s better for all of us.”
Monroe expects the event to enable law enforcement to make connections with younger residents and make relationships with “up-and-coming citizens.”
“We really would like as many young adults to attend as possible,” Monroe said. “We would like to speak to them, get in contact with them and talk to them at ease.”
Maxton will celebrate National Night Out from 6 to 9 p.m. in Beacham Park with free food, face-painting, bounce houses, Disney characters and laser tag. Beacham Park is located on South Austin Street.