, Port Arthur, Texas

October 9, 2012

First responders, community meet for Nederland Night Out

Mary Meaux
The Port Arthur News

NEDERLAND — The smell of fresh popped popcorn and the laughter of children filled the air as families strolled historic Boston Avenue for National Night Out/Open House on Tuesday.

Children, many of whom wore plastic fire fighters hats, walked the avenue where they met first responders and got an up close look at emergency vehicles in a festival-like atmosphere.

Rachel Silva, 7, flanked by her mom and dad, eagerly peeked into the police department’s newest acquisitions — a Taurus and Explorer. Her mom was glad her daughter had a chance to look inside the vehicles she constantly asks about, she said.

Nearby, Acadian Ambulance EMT Charles Gremmel gave a tour of an ambulance as well as giving out free candy.

“I like doing this,” Gremmel said of the community event.

As the EMT spoke, Jeremy Smith made his way out of the ambulance and stood next to his mother, Glenda.

“I think it’s a good idea,” Glenda Smith said of the National Night Out commemoration. “Kids nowadays need to know about first responders and what they do.”

Not far away Capt. Herbert Lee and Fire Fighter Robert Green, part of the Jack Brooks Regional Airport Fire Department, greeted families next to one of their trucks. Lee allowed children a chance to see bunker gear up close and tell them about fire safety.

“I adore this,” Lee said of the chance at visiting with children and families. “It’s eye opening for the community. They need to know what’s available at any given time and if something should happen, we’re there.”

Lee said that children often ask him if he’s scared when wearing his silver colored fire fighting gear, his answer is no.

“I don’t want them (children) running from me in case of a fire. I want them to run to me,” he added.

Historic Boston Avenue was filled with booths featuring games, food, safety information and giveaways as well as first responder vehicles.

Angela Fanette, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, helped organize the event and was glad to be able to work with the police and fire departments.

“It’s amazing,” Fanette said while looking at the many families arriving and mingling. “It’s a great night for everybody to come out, be neighborly and meet their first responders. As part of the parks department, to be able to support the police department and fire department means a lot to me as an employee of Nederland and as a resident. I’m from a family of police and fire fighters and I like people to see the non-emergency side of the guys and ladies.”

Tuesday was the city’s first time to participate in National Night Out, dubbed as America’s Night Out Against Crime. Organizers pushed the original date back a week due to homecoming activities which also allowed for an event that corresponded with Fire Prevention Week and allowed the Nederland Fire Department and the airport’s fire department to showcase their work and meet the public.

Nederland High School Cheerleaders and Big Ned were on hand and LifeShare Blood Center brought their bus out for a blood drive.

The block party culminated with a free showing of the movie “Up” and games.