Helena comes together for National Night Out

By NATHAN HOWELL | Staff Writer

HELENA – Helena High School’s parking lot was bustling on the night of Wednesday, Aug. 4, as the community gathered to celebrated the National Night Out event.

The event was started in 1984 as a way to honor law enforcement and their efforts, and has evolved over time to become an opportunity for community and law enforcement to become more connected.

The celebration is typically focused on crime prevention efforts. However, Helena’s low crime rate makes the night more of an opportunity to make positive connections.

“Typically, the night if focused on providing resources for crime prevention,” HPD Officer Jeff Murphy said. “But since we have one of the safest cities in the state we just adjusted our event to be more of a community outing with vendors and food trucks.”

The promise of those kinds of opportunities attracted a crowd of guests over the two-hour event.Food trucks like Brown Sugar, Sno-Balls, Fuhgeddaboutit, Beignets and Lattes and Kuntri Kitchen were set up on the side of the building were guests could stop by and eat while out with their families.

There were also a number of vendors and tables set up offering goods for sale and information about different programs like Compact, an FBI Evidence Response Team and more.

One of the biggest attractions, however, was a helicopter flown in by the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. Parents and their children enthusiastically stopped and took photos at the helicopter, as a representative stood by to give more information about it.

“Thank you Sheriff John Samaniego for supporting our event and bringing your men and women to demonstrate the  partnership and resources of the Sheriff’s Office and why we continue to share in the investment and safety of our community and county,” read a post on the HPD Facebook page after the event.

Another highlight was the display of first responder vehicles including trucks and SUVs used by HPD and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. One of Helena’s fire engines was set up in the edge of the parking lot with its ladder extended to pique maximum interest.

Helena’s Police and Fire Explorers were also onsite. These are organizations that offer opportunities for teens interested in pursuing a career in those fields to get hands-on experience.

“We just wanted to expand this night beyond police and fire, and turn it into more of a community outing,” Murphy said. “We wanted to offer local vendors an opportunity a chance to get their name out there. It was also just a way for community members to meet each other, if they haven’t.”