Battalion Chief Rod Dawson visits with Jenise Sexton as her daughter Jocelyn sits in the ambulance during Lilburn’s National Night Out event Tuesday evening at Lilburn Park. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)
LILBURN — Lilburn hosted its fourth-annual National Night Out Against Crime on Tuesday at Lilburn Park, helping get the word out about taking back the neighborhood.
The event, which started in 1984, is now held in more than 15,000 communities in all 50 states and Canada.
“We want to show criminals we are taking back our neighborhoods,” said Margot Ashley, president of SafetySmart Lilburn. “We’re encouraging people to go home and turn on their lights between 8 to 10 p.m., and interact with their neighbors.”
The event saw 75 vendors participate this year, up from 48 last year. This included 14 local restaurants who donated free food for residents to sample.
“All the food served and all items given out are free,” Ashley said. “We had groups that wanted to come here and sell stuff, and we told them no. We want this to remain a free event to the public.”
For Tim and Sharon Andrews, the event allowed them to get to know various entities in the community after recently moving from Tucker.
“We just moved here and wanted to learn about what the city has to offer,” Tim said. “We see everything they have and know how we’re protected.”
Among the events going on during National Night Out were a kids’ scavenger hunt, a puppet show, safe movement and dance demonstrations, and various police demonstrations.
For Lilburn Police Chief Bruce Hedley, sponsoring the event is important.
“We enjoy sponsoring National Night Out,” he said. “It’s an important event for our police department and the community. It’s one time a year when we all can get together with a common goal of fighting, reducing and deterring crime here in Lilburn. Building relationships between the police and community, and working together is how we solve this problem.”
Whether it was the free food or various goody bags given out, or the sense of community residents had under the pavilion, a lot was taken away from Tuesday’s event.
“If people are involved and show that they care about their neighbors, we can reduce crime,” Ashley said. “It’s all about working together for a common goal.”