National Night Out events held in Winston-Salem
(pictured above: Four-year-old Diontez Hylton dribbles a basketball near an inflatable basketball hoop.)
Residents across the city and nation took part in the 31st annual National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 5.
An initiative of the National Association of Town Watch, Night Out events aim to bring neighbors together to fight crime and drug abuse.
The Winston-Salem Police Department and Neighborhood Watch Group #163 sponsored the largest local Night Out gathering. Hundreds spent more than two hours on McCreary Street in the Ogburn Avenue community. They ate, danced, fellowshipped and heard city leaders vow to join them in their fight to keep their neighborhood safe.
“Your presence here is a testament to your commitment and dedication to the safety of your neighborhood and our city,” Police Chief Barry Rountree said. “It is also shows the strength in community and police partnerships. This one night of celebration and dedication has to continue throughout the year if we truly want to see success, reduce crimes and remove drugs from our community.”
Mayor Allen Joines and City Council members James Taylor, Molly Leight and Vivian Burke, whose ward includes McCreary Street, also addressed residents.
Employees from local Target Corp. stores were on hand to serve food and drinks and offer balloons and face-painting to kids. The Blue Gospel Avengers and belly dancer Samra Lara provided live entertainment; city agencies and nonprofits set up information tables to inform residents of various resources and services.
Christina Hylton brought her five children. A resident of the area for the past two years, Hylton said the crime rate there is too high.
“I’ve seen it improve a lot, but it is important for the kids to be safe,” Hylton said. “I want to raise my kids and not have them sitting in the house all the time. They can be out enjoying themselves and not have to worry about being shot or if there are drugs out on the street.”
Wendy Gregory said she came out to support the event and meet her neighbors.
“I live in the neighborhood, and I am glad that we do stuff like this,” she said. “It raises awareness. A lot of people that I haven’t met before came out and this gives me a chance to introduce myself. It is nice to meet some other folks.”
There were 34 National Night Out events across the city, according to the Winston-Salem Police department. They included cookouts, rallies, block parties and community-wide contests.
According to the National Association of Town Watch, 37.8 million people in 16,242 communities across the nation and beyond took part in National Night Out events last year.