Successful National Night Out

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MANCHESTER — It was a steamy, humid August evening in Manchester, but that didn't stop scores of community members from coming out for the Manchester Police Department's celebration of National Night Out.

As police departments across the country celebrated National Night Out's 35th anniversary, residents gathered at Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park's Applejack Field on Tuesday evening to support their local police and first responders.

The free, community-building event was meant to promote positive partnerships between local law enforcement and the community they serve. Residents and their children were welcome to chat with their local police, ask questions, and learn more about the department and the tools they use to help people.

Cpl. Chris Mason was responsible for coordinating the event, which marked the first time Manchester Police participated. He plans for the department to participate in years to come.

"I was kind of shocked as to how many people are here already," Mason said. The field was already filled ten minutes after the 6 p.m. start time.

Manchester's Night Out had a little something for everyone: Cornhole and other outdoor games, a free raffle, food, demonstrations of first responder equipment, and even a dunk tank featuring Sgt. James Blanchard.

Children gathered around Vermont State Trooper Wayne Godfrey of the Shaftsbury Barracks and his police dog, Tarawa, who enjoyed the extra attention.

Tarawa has served his department well; he will turn nine in December and has been in service for over eight years.

"Where I go, he goes," Godfrey said.

Police Chief Michael Hall says he likes to let his officers participate in programs and activities that interest them, so Mason was the perfect person to organize this event.

Hall also said this is the first time the police department worked with the town's first responders to participate in a community event.

Despite the police helicopter canceling its visit last minute due to some stormy weather before the event kicked off, Mason remained upbeat.

"I hope this is going to have a positive impact on the community," he said.

Christie Wisniewski can be reached at cwisniewski@benningtonbanner.com and at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.

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