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National Night Out to thank community’s first responders for 25th year –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

The community will gather Aug. 7 in celebration of Olney’s 25th annual National Night Out.

The family-friendly event will take place 5-8 p.m. at the Fair Hill shopping center, at Olney-Sandy Spring (Route 108) and Spartan roads.

National Night Out is sponsored nationally by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) and locally by the Olney Chamber of Commerce. More than 16,000 communities worldwide will participate in the community crime-prevention and safety event.

Olney’s celebration has grown from a small-scale event held at Longwood Recreation Center to what is considered by many to be the premier event in Montgomery County.

Over the years, Olney has received recognition from the NATW for its large turnout and community support, including an award for last year’s event.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett, Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, Sheriff Darren Popkin and other dignitaries are scheduled to attend several National Night Out events in the county, but are expected to again begin their evening in Olney.

They will travel in a motorcade from Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department Station 40 to kick off the event at 5 p.m.

The focus of National Night Out is to strengthen the partnership among police and fire personnel, businesses and the community.

“The event will include the opportunity to engage with local fire and police department personnel, and doing so will make Olney a safer community,” Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jon Hulsizer said. “Our first responders keep our community a great place to live and work,”

Fourth District Police Commander Capt. Marc Yamada said community relationships and interactions are of the utmost importance to his department.

“Engagement events help the police and the community to get to know each other better,” he said. “A lack of communication and misunderstanding are at the core of many of the current problems we face in law enforcement. In order to understand each other, you must first get to know one another. The best way to get to know one another is to come together and speak with each other. This is crucial to building trust and establishing legitimacy.”

He said the community has helped the police department solve many crimes by serving as its eyes and ears, and events such as National Night Out help to build those lines of communication.

“Olney is not only where I work, but it has been my home for the past 30 years and it is where I have raised my family,” Yamada said. “I am proud the be part of what I consider to be one of the best family/community events in the county.”

Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Kelley also welcomes the opportunity interact with the community he serves.

“This is the 25th year for Olney’s National Night Out and the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department has been a part of it every year since it began,” he said. “The best way to enjoy a safer neighborhood is to get out and meet your neighbors and that is what National Night Out is all about.”

The event will feature demonstrations, information on fire prevention and drug abuse, exhibits, emergency vehicles, equipment and apparatus displays, police horses and rescue dogs, U.S. Secret Service child identification kits, face painting, crafts, raffles, entertainment and food sales.

The Platinum Sponsor is Graeves Auto & Tire. The Diamond Sponsors are Kang’s Black Belt Academy, Olney Assisted Living and Del Landscaping.

Food sponsors include Mamma Lucia, Harris Teeter, The Greene Turtle and Chick-fil-A.
The net proceeds from the event will be donated to the Olney Police Satellite Station, Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Maryland-National Capital Park Police and the Officer Noah Leotta “Act Responsibly Scholarship.”

For more information, go to www.olneymd.org.

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