Amazon John, founder and president of Silly Safaris, shows off a real live Yellow-headed vulture to crowds of onlookers at the north pavilion at Milligan Park. A crowd favorite and yearly entertainer at the National Night Out, Amazon John has been president of Silly Safari's for over twenty years.
Amazon John, founder and president of Silly Safaris, shows off a real live Yellow-headed vulture to crowds of onlookers at the north pavilion at Milligan Park. A crowd favorite and yearly entertainer at the National Night Out, Amazon John has been president of Silly Safari's for over twenty years.
On Tuesday night, as “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice thumped over the speaker system, Crawfordsville residents gathered alongside their neighborhood first responders to celebrate National Night Out at Milligan Park.
National Night Out is an event that has been held across the country annually since 1984. The event is designed to bring police officers together with the community to increase awareness of police programs within communities, as well as providing an outlet for tensions to be eased between officers and the people they serve.
Montgomery County Sheriff Ryan Needham explained that events like these are important to both the police and the community. “This is a very important event. It’s a family night event,” Needham explained, “Too often, when we’re forced to deal with or engage with the community, it’s because of a tragedy. When we have an event like this, we have the chance to say, ‘We live here too, we’re human too, and we’re a part of this community too,’ and anytime you can do something like that, it’s beneficial for everyone involved.”
For Detective Lieutenant Bob Rivers of the Crawfordsville Police Department, a night like National Night Out serves as another piece in CPD’s efforts to maintain a good relationship with the community. “National Night Out, it’s important . . . but even with all the problems you see across the nation, we’ve always had a good relationship with the community. As far as Crawfordsville goes, there’s three of us who do community policing. The fourth Sunday of each month, so long as its decent out, myself and another officer pick a neighborhood, walk door to door and meet people and talk with them. So, it’s a big part of what we do throughout the summer,” he said.
Community policing is a growing trend across the country. In an effort to improve relations between police departments and the people they serve, police departments will place specific officers in a specific neighborhood, so that those officers can become familiar with local residents.
As for the event itself, there was a host of activities. There was live music, hotdogs and hamburgers, a bouncy house and an inflatable obstacle course, a Silly Safari that included a kinkajou and a yellow-headed falcon, as well as booths and giveaways from a variety of local businesses. The event was hosted by the Crawfordsville Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s, and the Youth Services Bureau. The Crawfordsville Fire Department was there showing off an ambulance and an engine company truck. The fire department also held an egg drop contest, where firefighters at the top of a ladder truck ladder dropped eggs down below and whoever stood below had to try to catch them. In the end, the Montgomery County Youth Services Bureau also held raffles throughout the evening, giving away a variety of prizes.