Everyone had the opportunity to meet and mingle with a variety of first responders, and representatives of local emergency services and community organizations.
National Night Out was hosted this year by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, and is designed to highlight the important relationship between the community and those who respond when bad things happen.
Among the participants were representatives from the Madera County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, Cal Fire, Sierra Ambulance, Red Cross, California Fish and Wildlife, Yosemite Unified School District, Visit Yosemite Madera County, Sierra Tel, Central California Blood Center, the offices of Senator Tom Berryhill and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, Mountain Amateur Radio Club, California State Parks, Supervisor of District 5 Tom Wheeler, US Forest Service, Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce, Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD), CCADT, Wildlife Officers and District Attorney David Linn.
One of the highlights of the evening was CHP Officer Kaci Lutz on keyboards playing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” to a rapt young audience, and the brave CHP mascot “Chipper,” all suited up walking around taking photos with his fans.
Local volunteer firefighters were spotted explaining the program to potential recruits, while Madera County Sheriff’s Deputy Amy Rousell and Reserve Deputy Ed Greene — both of whom work the Bass Lake Boat Patrol — showed off their twin Yamaha FX Waverunners to an appreciative audience.
“These things are impressive,” said Greene. “We only need about two inches of water and we can take them pretty much anywhere.”
Also on display was the S.O.’s SWAT vehicle, a tank known as BAT. Sheriff Jay Varney, Commander Tyson Pogue and other critical members of the team were all present to answer questions.
Fans were a popular accessory and water was handed out to ward off the effects of the heat, while the band played on. Free Italian Ice was given out to anyone who took advantage of the Bloodmobile.
Hats off and sunscreen on to all the people who set up the sprawling event, starting at 9 a.m. and working all day to get it organized perfectly. This is just the third year of the Oakhurst National Night Out, and it has grown exponentially each time.
Among the many emergency services represented was Sierra Ambulance, with General Manager Ed Guzman and EMT Kelly Lister available to discuss membership details with the community, and to give out coloring books to the children. Lister has been an EMT for six years and has worked with Sierra Ambulance for almost two years.
“It’s a very rewarding job and it’s truly a privilege,” she said, talking about the importance of being able to connect with neighbors during an event like National Night Out. “I grew up in this town and I just love being able to give back to my community.”
A big hit with kids, Caltrans was out in force with heavy equipment and allowed the children to climb on up — complete with a snazzy vest — and even honk the horn.
“We respond to just about everything. Whether it’s to fix a pothole in the road, or even fires and accidents, Caltrans is there.”
In fact, it seems as though all of the vital services and individuals on whom we depend throughout the year were on hand at the Old Mill Shopping Center Tuesday night. The turnout was great, despite the heat.
National Night Out is held across the United States on the first Tuesday of August, with the exception of Texas and Florida — states which sometimes hold the event in October, depending on weather.
The event dates back to 1984 when about 2.5 million community members came out to mingle with emergency services. Today, the event is said to attract more than 38 million people, nationwide.
CHP Officer Kaci Lutz says next year they are hoping to hold the event in October!