Unity was the part of the National Night Out festivities that Helen P. Smith said she liked best.
“The fellowship part, the eating boiled peanuts and fanning the gnats,” she said as she sat under a tent Tuesday afternoon outside the Macon-Bibb County Senior Center at 1283 Adams St.
Old school music drifted by a popcorn stand and on down the sidewalk toward people frying fish.
Smith’s friends laughed.
It was the first time Smith and her friends participated in the National Night Out’s crime prevention activities.
“We look out for one another,” she said. “If we stick together and do that, we’ll have a great community.”
The 32nd annual National Night Out observance brought thousands of communities together across the nation to promote bonding with neighbors and public safety professionals.
Andrea Lee, a supervisor at the senior center, said it’s important to show unity, especially when seniors make up such a large majority of Macon’s population.
Because “where there’s unity, there’s strength,” she said, quoting a passage from the Bible.
Bibb County Sheriff David Davis hosted an 11 a.m. kickoff at Terminal Station in downtown Macon to rally participating neighborhoods from every corner of the county, such as seniors from the center in the Beall’s Hill neighborhood.
Clarence Chambliss and Joe Gibson attended the kickoff and said afterward they would be setting up for a neighborhood cookout at the corner of Evers Place and Atwood Drive, just east of the Eisenhower Crossing shopping center.
Chambliss said even though they are not police officers, regular people can still report suspicious activity.
“It’s neighbors looking out for neighbors,” he said.
During the kickoff ceremony, sheriff’s Lt. Ellis Sinclair said the event sends a message to those who are committing crimes.
“We’re not going to take it anymore,” Sinclair said while the crowd repeated the mantra.
Davis said the yearly celebration shows how the Macon community has taken a bite out of crime.
Share a hamburger, hot dog or a cold drink with your neighbors, and let the criminal element of Macon-Bibb County know the community is committed to stopping evil-doers 365 days every year, he said.
Turn on your porch light, lock your door and go meet your neighbors, Davis said.
Bibb sheriff’s deputies, Macon-Bibb firefighters and government leaders visited various locations throughout the community beginning Tuesday morning to spread the message of public safety, including an early visit to Joshua House Early Care and Learning Center on 961 Emory Ave.
Firefighters from Station 5 read “Crawl Low Under Smoke” to a group of 1-, 2- and 3-year-old children at the child center. They taught the young ones what to do if a fire starts and how to dial 9-1-1.
Lauren Stephens, the center’s director, said the early introduction to community helpers is a big learning experience.
Being exposed to real-life law enforcement lets the children know “police officers and firemen are our friends and are here to help us,” she said.
For more information about neighborhood watch programs, call crime prevention coordinator Judy A. Gordon at 478-803-2711 or 478-447-9763, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact writer Conner Wood, call 744-4489.