About 2.5 million people — representing 400 communities across 23 states — participated in the inaugural event. Thirty years later, the event has grown to include almost 40 million people, with National Night Out festivities now held in all 50 states and even several Canadian cities.
Both Alpharetta and Roswell will hold special events to mark the 31st National Night Out on Aug 5.
In Alpharetta, festivities will be held at the Wills Park Equestrian Center from 6 to 9 p.m.
“The whole aspect is about communication,” said Alpharetta Department of Public Safety Executive Officer George Gordon. “We want to shake hands with the public and we want to be full partners.”
At the event, police and fire response vehicles will be on display and a live SWAT demonstration — complete with simulated gunfire — is scheduled. Kids can drop by a public safety booth for temporary tattoos while Alpharetta officers serve up hot dogs, hamburgers and ice cream.
Gordon said National Night Out is a great way for government services to interact with local residents.
“It’s important for us to be community-minded and community-oriented,” he said. “It’s one program among many we put on each year … to let them know we’re here for you, this is what we represent and these are the abilities we have.”
The Roswell event will be held at city hall from 6 to 9 p.m.
“We try to bring in businesses, local community groups and the community at large,” said Officer Zachary Frommer of the Roswell Police Department’s community relations unit. “Everybody offers something. There’s always some kind of giveaway or game every time you turn around.”
Representatives from police, fire and emergency services will be on hand to showcase their vehicles and equipment.
“This year, we’re going to be doing a big K-9 demonstration using multiple police dogs,” Frommer said. “All kinds of different agencies will be represented out there, with all kinds of cool tools and gear.”
The “neighborhood cookout atmosphere” appeals to both kids and their parents, Frommer said. However, he believes the event is about more than just burgers and inflatable bounce houses.
“The community gets to meet the officers who are working the streets every day to keep them safe,” he said. “It’s a way for them to interact with us on a friendly level.”