NASHUA — Hundreds of children got the chance to hang out with Nashua's finest Tuesday, inspecting anti-bomb robots, scoping the inside of the mobile command center and soaking their friends in the Police Athletic League dunk tank.
Brandon Goulart, 11, and an aspiring Nashua police officer, said he comes to National Night Out every year at the Greater Nashua Boys and Girls Club. He was most impressed by the CB radios, walkie talkies and computers inside the police command center.
“I think it's a good opportunity for children to explore all the police vehicles and all the different bomb squads and everything,” Goulart said at the event.
Jared Barbosa, the the Boys Club's clubhouse director, said National Night Out signifies the unification of various service agencies with the youth.
“It's like coming together as one big organization for the community of Nashua,” Barbosa said.
“Our intent in getting kids and their families to come was to spend some special quality time with each other here, and with a number of organizations and the kids that are involved with them.”
Various groups were present at the event, including the HIV/AIDS Task Force, Lamprey Clinic and the Police Athletic League, as well as corporate sponsors Target, Friendly's and Sam's Club.
Three high school rock bands played amid a carnival of face-painting, hot dogs and wild animals on display.
In addition to police, Nashua firefighters and EMTs came to talk about their work and lead tours of ambulances and fire engines.
Tracey Jackson of the Boys and Girls Club has organized the event for the last four years. She explained how this was the 29th year that the club put on National Night Out.
“It helps to kind of break that barrier between, I don't want to say 'them and us,' but sometimes that's how it is,” Jackson said.
“It allows the kids to interact with them and see them as friendly people that they can go to to help protect their neighborhoods.”
Jackson said the event each year draws an increasing number of people, and estimated the turnout as higher than last year's record 250.
The 29th Annual National Night Out, is a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.
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Simon Rios may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.