National Night Out: Building community, one neighborhood at a time

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Photo gallery from National Night Out at Gossler Park Elementary

MANCHESTER, NH –  Danielle is a young mom of three who moved to the West Side about a year ago from Nashua. She is standing in the middle of Gossler Park school yard where her twin girls, Isabelle and Hannah, are hula-hooping. She is also keeping an eye on her sister’s two kids while her son considers finding his way back to the snack table.

“We’re having a good time,” she says, as she considers the question of how she likes living in Manchester.

She is slow to answer.

“It’s all right. I don’t like the drugs,” she says. “I saw a needle down by the bridge, but I think the police are doing a good job. They can only do so much.”

Generosity of community partners makes National Night Out an annual success.
Generosity of community partners makes National Night Out an annual success.

In the past 24 hours Manchester Police made two arrests that also resulted in getting more than 8 grams of heroin off the street. Foot patrols are encouraged by newly appointed Chief Nick Willard as a way to keep his officers in regular contact with residents,  and the city’s community policing unit seems to be everywhere – including out in force for this National Night Out event.

It’s a decades-old tradition in community building that encourages neighbors to meet neighbors, happening simultaneously in communities like Manchester all across the country Aug. 4.

Although stormy weather threatened to intrude on the event, planned for 4 p.m., Lt Brian O’Keefe said he looked out his window and saw the dark clouds part and go their separate ways earlier in the afternoon.

“We were fortunate because the storm kind of split off. Where I was looking from my window, toward the West, I saw lightning at Mount Uncanoonuc and then I saw the dark clouds coming in, and then I watched the clouds go this way and that way, and the sun broke through,” O’Keefe said. “I knew we were going to have a good night.”

Kristen Treacy, the city’s Weed & Seed Strategy Coordinator, says the annual event is made possible through the generosity of more than two dozen  local businesses and organizations.

“We move it around every year, so last year we were at Bakersville School, and the year before we were at Elmwood Gardens, Treacy said. “The purpose is really to foster police/community relationships and break down some of the barriers and fear that can exist.”

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About Carol Robidoux 5854 Articles
Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!