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Residents Respond To Invitation To Participate In National Night Out



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Despite a rain shower that actually served to cool things off about midway through the two-hour event, dozens of families attended Newtown’s first National Night Out event Tuesday night August 2.

Presented in the parking lot outside the Senior Center, the local event offered crafts, face painting, multiple touch-a-truck opportunities, dancing, a bounce house, and even a food truck for those looking to include dinner or at least a snack with the evening festivities.

The August 2 event was coordinated by Newtown PD Sergeant William Chapman and Newtown Community Center Director Matt Ariniello.

Among the most popular offerings was Dunk-A-Cop, with local police officers taking their turn on the hotseat of a dunk tank.

NPD School Resources Officer Matthew Hayes was the first to sit inside the dunk tank, and children quickly lined up to take a chance on making him drop into the water.

When they were unsuccessful at dunking the SRO into the tank after three softball throws, many bravely ran toward the tank and hit the large red button that sent the office into the water. Hayes, and those who followed taking turns on the seat over the water, were great sports, even after numerous immersions.

The dunk tank was set up between a tent with goodies and handouts shared by members of Newtown PD and the department’s M-ATV. An armored 13-ton military surplus truck, the vehicle was one of multiple apparatus offered by first responder agencies that invited exploration by the youngest of the evening’s attendees. The PD also had cruisers parked for children to climb into.

Also providing vehicles on Tuesday were Botsford, Hawleyville, Newtown Hook & Ladder, and Sandy Hook fire companies; Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps, Connecticut State Police, CT State Police Troop A, and the 928th Military Police Military Working Dog Detachment.

Still celebrating the conclusion of three successful offerings of Safety Town, Newtown Youth & Family Services had a display featuring a pop-up firehouse and escape ladder. A low-riding tricycle from the agency was a popular ride for many children.

Newtown Community Center had a table filled with goodies and handouts, as did Norwalk Health Department.

Newtown Bee Editor John Voket served as DJ and MC, keeping the music going and stopping only briefly while a downpour and some nearby lightning moved through the area.

When Voket resumed the music, the brick walkway near the entrance to Newtown Senior Center turned into a temporary dance floor when children migrated in that direction. Newtown High School varsity cheerleaders also did some dancing, lining up for a few songs in the parking lot and offering an impromptu performance that entertained the crowd.

The rain did very little to dispel the celebration. Most took cover under tents and nearby trees, or waited out the rain in their vehicles. Those who stayed beyond the showers were eventually rewarded by the appearance of a rainbow.

National Night Out is an annual event meant to increase awareness about police programs in communities. Many Newtown police officers, including Chief David Kullgren, were also on hand Tuesday night, meeting most of the attendees.

According to the official National Night Out website (NATW.org), Newtown was one of 28 Connecticut communities to participate this year. Nationwide, 16,000 communities registered for the August 2 event.


Managing Editor Shannon Hicks can be reached at shannon@thebee.com.

Newtown Community Center Director Matt Ariniello and Newtown PD Sergeant Will Chapman stand amid the final minutes of preparation before the opening of this week’s National Night Out, presented August 2 outside the community center. The two co-coordinated the successful family event. —Bee Photos, Hicks
One little girl gleefully runs away after pushing the button that sent Newtown PD School Officer Matthew Hayes into a tank of water during Tuesday’s National Night Out. Dozens of families took advantage of the free event that offered crafts, face painting, multiple touch-a-truck opportunities, and more fun just outside Newtown Community Center. —Bee Photos, Hicks
—Bee Photos, Hicks
Norwalk Health Department IAP Outreach Worker Sarah Foristel had a table piled with health handouts and giveaways. —Bee Photos, Hicks
Newtown PD Sergeant Will Chapman was a willing participant for one of the early face painting efforts by Newtown High School cheerleader Peyton Dupont. —Bee Photos, Hicks
—Bee Photos, Hicks
Children climbed in, over, and even through the roof of Newtown Police Department’s M-ATV vehicle. —Bee Photos, Hicks
Rain did not deter most of those who were at National Night Out. One woman simply popped open her umbrella and waited out the weather. —Bee Photos, Hicks
One little man watches while other children dance on a nearby walkway. The area near the senior center entrance became an impromptu dance floor Tuesday night. —Bee Photos, Hicks
Sergeant Joe Leonard and Lilo, from the 928th Military Police Military Working Dog Detachment, were also among Tuesday night’s participants. —Bee Photo, Hicks
Fresh off the successful completion of three sessions of Safety Camp, Newtown Youth & Family Services used some of the materials from that annual summer offering to welcome children to their display area. Representing the agency on Tuesday were Madison McColl and Rebecca Sanders. —Bee Photo, Hicks
As dusk arrived and the rain cleared, a rainbow appeared for those who were still enjoying National Night Out. —Bee Photos, Hicks
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