By Sherrie Norris
It’s happening all across the country and nowhere will support for law enforcement and community spirit be felt stronger than in Boone on Tuesday, August 2.
From 6-8 p.m., Watauga County’s Third Annual National Night Out will be observed as hundreds are expected to gather in the parking lot of Watauga High School for a family-friendly evening of fun and games, food, music and much more.
Thanks to the joint efforts of Watauga County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Casey Miller and Boone Police Department’s Community Resource Officer, Kat Eller, who are coordinating the event, this promises to be a successful gathering of community members, law enforcement, area first responders and related agencies.
Three years ago, Watauga County officially joined the initiative known as National Night Out and observed from coast to coat. It was a success with good community involvement, and organizers hoped that it would become an annual event. Then, COVID-19 happened and stopped it in its tracks before it really got off the ground.
Last year’s second event saw a good turnout and participation – despite being rescheduled due to inclement weather — but this upcoming NNO should be the best yet, organizers anticipate.
Just as similar events are occurring all over the country, Watauga County will be hosting this special gathering with support already gathering around the region.
On behalf of Back Our Blue, a relatively new nonprofit organization supporting area law enforcement, Diane Ford met with Eller and Miller last Monday and immediately began rallying the support of her group. “We are behind our officers 100 percent and will do all we can to help with this event.”
Since 1984, National Night Out has been bringing communities together to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement — while bringing back a true sense of community as we once knew it.
According Miller , Watauga County has been working hard to forge these relationships for quite a while, and in light of tragic events in the last few years, it’s something the county, as a whole, really needs.
After attending regional events several years ago, Miller became interested in bringing the initiative “home,” and with the support of Sheriff L.D. Hagaman and Major Kelly Redmon, National Night Out in Boone began.
The response from all county and municipal departments was encouraging from the start, Miller said, adding that It takes a community working together to make it happen. With the participation of local businesses and organizations donating food and services, like in the past, it’s sure to be a success once again.
To date, Miller and Eller have commitments from a number of local non- profit organizations that will be represented. They include:
- High Country Community Health
- The Lion’s Club
- Que Pasa Appalachia
- Hunter’s Heroes
- Appalachian Theater
- High Country Rodeo Association
- Back Our Blue (local)
- Back The Blue
- Boonedocks MMA
- Special Olympics
Entertainment to include:
- Latino Dancers
- Appalachian Fiddlers
- Junaluska Gospel Choir
- Human Statue
- George Wilson/Sound System
- Kids crafts
- Dunking booth (Dunk A Cop!) fundraiser for Special Olympics.
- Yard games
- Bouncy house
Free hot dogs and drinks will be served; JJ’s Shaved Ice will be available for purchase.
A display of memorial vehicles will be available to honor the county’s fallen officers, which is sure to be a touching part of the event. Other law enforcement vehicles, in addition to those representing local fire, rescue and partnering agencies will be on hand, as well.
There is still much work to be done, with other booths, displays and participants to be confirmed at the time draws closer, Miller said.
It is the hope of Miller and Eller that National Night Out will further enhance what they and their fellow officers have been trying to do, especially in recent years, and that is to unite neighborhoods and law enforcement in more positive, compassionate circumstances.
More About National Night Out
Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August. Texas and a few other areas celebrate on the first Tuesday in October.
The event is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.
The first annual National Night Out took place in August 1984 and involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states; the concept was introduced by an already established network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation.
The need for such gatherings, however, was actually recognized years earlier with the vision of one man in Pennsylvania.
The event quickly grew to become a celebration beyond just front porch vigils and symbolic efforts amongst neighbors to send a message of neighborhood camaraderie. Neighborhoods across the nation began to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and more.
After nearly four decades, it is estimated that 38 million people in 16,000 communities across the country currently participate in this annual event.
Watauga County High School is located at 300 Go Pioneers Drive in Boone.
For more information, to make a donation or volunteer for the event, email Miller at [email protected]