Even though the Payson Police Department lost to the fire department for the second time during the annual National Night Out kickoff event Saturday, Chief Don Engler still declared the event an outstanding success.
A third more people from throughout the Rim Country and even the Valley showed up to this year’s event designed to increase community awareness on crime.
Last year at the event, the police versus firefighter race was on tricycles. Realizing this wasn’t their strong suit after losing horribly, the police redesigned the race, this time using beds on wheels.
Five officers and firefighters dressed in nightgowns and pushed the modified beds down the Green Valley Parkway in a race for bragging rights. However, it wasn’t to be for the cops, who lost to the firefighters once again.
“Next year, maybe we’ll go with chess or something,” Engler said.
The event also included a K-9 demonstration and entertainment for children from Smoky Bear, McGruff the Crime Dog and Darin the D.A.R.E. Lion.
Junction 87, country artist Bill Camp, disc jockey John Vela, the Tap Into It Academy and John Carpino and the Hot Cappuccinos performed on the Green Valley Park stage.
“The crowds were steady all day,” Engler said. “There was a real, strong local support.”
Saturday’s event was a precursor to the actual night out event, Tuesday, Aug. 4.
Engler expects at least a dozen neighborhoods, four more than last year, to hold block parties around town.
The event is a time for homeowners to get outside of their homes and meet their neighbors in a safe way.
“The goal is for people to get to know their neighbors so they can recognize out of the ordinary events and alert police in the future,” he said.
Last year, the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) recognized the department for its participation in the 25th Annual National Night Out crime, drug and violence prevention program.