Despite the threat of rain and a brief thunderstorm, several thousand people attended the annual National Night Out event Saturday evening at Target hosted by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office. The HCSO had a number of exhibits including those from the K-9 Unit and the Vice and Narcotics Unit.
Sheriff Al Neinhuis stated, “National Night Out is intended to allow the community to interact with law enforcement and other first responders in a positive, stress-free environment. When citizens normally interact with first responders it is the result of a stressful situation, one where law enforcement, firefighters and paramedics must be focused and unemotional. This event allows citizens and first responders to relax and interact, building bridges that will allow us to be even more effective in keeping them safe and, in the process, making them feel safe.”
This was the fifth year the event has taken place at Target. More than 160 vendors participated in this year’s event at the Target store located at 3101 Aerial Way, Brooksville. Several vendors made a voluntary $10 donation to Hernando County Sheriff’s Charities that will be used to benefit the county as a whole.
Some of the vendors who participated included churches and non-profit organizations, as well as private businesses. They gave away literature and free samples, such as delicious baked goods from Your Confection Connection, a home-based business that specializes in cakes and desserts. At the Good Humor truck people waited in long lines in the sweltering heat for free ice cream. Terlep Chiropractic provided free chair massages.
Hernando County Animal Services, National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Hernando Fine Arts Council were among the non-profits that participated. Nina Mattei, Hernando County Health Department, showcased a disaster preparedness kit every family should have consisting of a flashlight, shelf-stable food and other items needed in case of a hurricane, fire, epidemic outbreak or other disaster.
Ms. Mattei advised, “Make a kit, have a plan and stay informed.”
Tyler Creek Road, a local country band, provided live entertainment and an HCSO employee acted as DJ at one of the sheriff's office tents.
The HCSO and the other first responders also had equipment on site, such as a helicopter, fire engine and ambulance.
The local U.S. Army recruiter's office and the Young Marines had booths, as well. Young Marines is an organization made up of youth ages eight through high school. One of their programs is drug awareness that encourages young people to live a drug-free lifestyle.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the HSCO provided literature and free items to the public. They also displayed protective gear that the children were allowed to try on.
All in all, the attendees and the participants enjoyed this fun and educational event.