National Night Out brings first responders, community together

Published 9:49 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

PORT NECHES — Port Neches residents and local community members got the chance to meet their local police and to enjoy themselves with a lot of family-friendly activities.

Port Neches celebrated their eighth annual National Night Out at Riverfront Park, an event to get the public engaged with their first responders in a more festive atmosphere. Features included tours of emergency vehicles, live music by Jerry Mullin and a showing of “The Jungle Book” on a 40-foot screen.

And there was free food. In fact, everything was free, according to Theresa Beavens, event organizer and secretary at the Port Neches Police Department.

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“It’s completely free. It’s completely donations,” Beavens said. “That makes it special because people don’t have to worry about money.”

But free stuff was not the main reason for Port Neches’ National Night Out.

“It’s a community event to promote a safe neighborhood and to establish a partnership with the police,” Beavens said.

“We try to get officers on duty, and even those off duty, to come here and take part (in the event).”

For Beavens, it was about humanizing the men and women who put their lives on the line every day for the public.

“It’s important because it pulls the community together. It brings the officers together so that the community can see that the police are people, too.”

In that same sense of public spirit, Beavens mentioned how everybody volunteers for the event, from Port Neches schools to Neches River Wheelhouse to Wives Behind the Badge.

“It promotes community awareness,” Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Port Neches Robert Arnold said.

And as a retired patrol sergeant and K9 officer, Arnold agreed that these types of events were important for getting the public comfortable with their local police.

“The only time they see police officers is when there’s trouble; so, this gives a situation where people aren’t in trouble and they can see the officers in a more positive light,” Arnold said.

“It gives the opportunity to meet police and emergency personnel when they’re not in a stressful situation.”

Assistant Chief of Port Neches Police David Reeves agreed.

“It brings the community together to meet the officers and interact with them on a more personal level,” he said.

For several of the families and residents attending the outdoor event, it was a mixture of supporting their first responders and enjoying the different activities present.

“We’re here to support the community,” David Prioux said. “It’s neat how they have free giveaways and how it gives the kids the chance to meet the firefighters and other (first responders).”

His wife, Erin Prioux, agreed, saying, “Our kids’ favorite part is getting in the helicopter and the SWAT truck.”

For other attendees like James Lavespere, it was a good opportunity to get out with family and his nephews.

“The kids’ (favorite part) is that it gives them the chance to run around and get some energy out,” Lavespere said.

He also appreciated that National Night Out showed that the police “are citizens as well.”

And for others like Tracy Denzlinger, attending the event was a sort of tradition.

“We come out every time they have something, and it’s lots of fun.”