Spencer and East Spencer join forces for National Night Out
SPENCER — Neighboring towns came together on Tuesday night for a community celebration of a national event.
National Night Out is a law enforcement awareness event intended to make connections between local police and residents. East Spencer has held National Night Out events for years, but Spencer has never had its own event. This year, the towns came together at Spencer’s Park Plaza for a joint affair. Food, games, music and hay rides covered the corner lot at Park Plaza, and it was all free.
Sharon Hovis, recently retired as East Spencer’s chief of police, oversaw the event there. Hovis is also a member of the Spencer Board of Aldermen. She is happy the towns collaborated on this year’s event. She wants it to stay that way in the future.
“I see it getting better and growing bigger the more they keep doing this,” Hovis said. “Collaboration is key here.”
Hovis said there was a sense of fulfillment in seeing people meeting one another in once place. Events like Tuesday’s let the community see first responders smile and laugh.
“This is a positive light,” Hovis said.
Interim East Spencer Police Chief Nicholas O’Brien said positive events like National Night Out are important.
“It’s good to get out in the community and do things and let them see you in a light other than responding for an emergency or things of that nature,” O’Brien said.
Michael File, an investigator in the Spencer Police Department, said staff were all over the place starting the day before the event to get everything set up. When all the work was tallied, File said, there were hundreds of hours sunk into the event.
“It’s well worth our time to do it,” File said. “It’s positive reception.”
One piece of equipment, a seatbelt convincer owned by the state, had to be hauled to Park Plaza from Rockingham. The convincer is one of four in the state, and it simulates an auto collision at about 5-7 mph. File said it surprises people.
“It is so much more than what people anticipate,” he said.
There was also an obstacle course for people to try to navigate on a golf cart while wearing goggles that simulate vision while under the influence.
The hay rides were popular, and a long line of people lined up waiting for their turns.
Whosoever Will Let Them Come, a local church, volunteered to provide the food. They were cooking up hotdogs with fixin’s.
Bishop Chris Brown works with Spencer Police Chief Mike James on the town’s citizen advisory board. He said the church thought it would be great to support an event that would get the community together.
“We’re just getting out and letting everybody know that we’re all somebody,” Brown said. “Just coming together.”
Stanley Rice, an East Spencer resident, said he has been a supporter of National Night Out for about 15 years.
“You need to prevent crime,” Rice said. “I believe an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. So I support anything that advocates preventing issues and coming together within the community to help police yourselves. That’s what I see in National Night Out.”