It's Happening: Behind the Scenes at National Night Out

By Julie Perine on August 08, 2021 from It’s Happening via

To bring awareness of community police programs like neighborhood watch, drug prevention and other anti-crime efforts, a bunch of neighbors simply turned on their porch lights and sat outside their homes.
National Night Out was born.
Since that 1984 event, the idea has caught on across the country in a big way. It now involves tens of thousands of communities across the U.S., each celebrating in its own style – from block party cookouts to major festivals.
Bridgeport’s event is somewhere in the middle. But, as usual, our city gets it just right.
Tuesday evening, several thousand area residents turned out for National Night Out held at Bridgeport Recreation Complex. It was a twist in tradition as the event had in past years been held at the Benedum Civic Center and Bridgeport Pool. And with the 2020 event not taking place at all, people were hungry for it all; not just the food and freebies, but also the camaraderie.
Just to witness the smiles, laughter, and embraces, it was a good place to be. But the inflatables, water slide, live tunes by “No Bad JuJu” and dozens of pop-ups featuring games, activities and novelties made it even better.
Many worked behind the scenes to bring this fun night to our community. You may have spotted our City Manager Randy Wetmore with a water hose, keeping the water slide nice and slippery. Mayor Andy Lang and his wife Lisa were at the food pavilion, greeting visitors and helping to organize. Associated Businesses of Bridgeport members were passing out pizza and hotdogs to appreciative community members. The faithful ladies of the GFWC Woman’s Club were at the main entrance, distributing tickets for prize drawings. Other civic clubs provided volunteers - all working for the common good. Local businesses and organizations were represented, letting folks know the services they are providing to our community and even giving out everything from beach balls and glow bracelets to barbeque sandwiches and kettle corn. Dessert trucks opened their windows with free ice cream and cake offerings and artists offered their talents for face painting.
And, of course, the main attraction – our selfless police, fire and emergency first responders were well represented and busy meeting and greeting. The ladder truck was set up, providing a cool show and tell experience and police accompanied their officers offering a friendly, furry up close and personal introductions. Kids and adults were able to check out police motorcycles and even the SWAT truck. Police Chief John Walker and Assistant Chief Mark Rogers were front and center. Rogers even assumed some emcee duties, announcing the winning ticket numbers for dozens of very nice prizes. Through it all, kids were reassured that members of law enforcement are their friends. We are so fortunate here in Bridgeport to have dedicated officers looking out for our safety and that does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.
Standing up on the bank and looking down into the soccer field “bowl” was a sight to behold. It was community togetherness and National Night Out at its best. Thank you all who made it possible.
Editor's Note:Top photo of fireworks by Joey Signorelli of Ben Queen Photography. 
Remainder of photos by Julie Perine. From top: City Manager Randy Wetmore sprays down water slide; Judy Osborne and Barbara Wilburn of GFWC Women's Club of Bridgeport distribute prize tickets to attendees; Associated Businesses of Bridgeport President Doug Marquette hands out hotdogs to Bridgeport VIPS (Volunteers in Police Services); crowd enjoys activities; and Cassie Busdeker, executive director of Greater Bridgeport CVB passes out items. 

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