Miss-Lou residents celebrate National Night Out

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, August 8, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis, center, dances with other law enforcement officials and residents in the Woodlawn neighborhood Tuesday night during the National Night Out event. The officers caravanned through Ferriday, Vidalia and Natchez.

NATCHEZ — Area residents greeted local law enforcement Tuesday night with blaring music, dancing in the street, hamburgers and hotdogs during the annual National Night Out celebration.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Natchez Fire Department Lt. Ernest Owens helps LaRobert Nickelson, 5, change the water spray of the fire hydrant Tuesday night on Minor Street during the National Night Out event.

Law enforcement authorities from both sides of the river cruised though Ferriday, Vidalia and Natchez meeting and greeting residents for the nationwide celebration geared toward promoting anti-crime and anti-drug programs and police-community partnerships.

The Natchez Police, Natchez Fire, Vidalia Police and Ferriday Police department and the Concordia Parish and Jefferson County sheriff’s offices participated in the National Night Out caravan through the community. The Adams County Sheriff’s Office did not participate.

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Natchez Chief Danny White said he was excited to be out and about meeting residents during his first National Night Out as chief of the Natchez Police Department.

“We’ve had the opportunity to meet with a lot of residents and talk to them about any problems in their neighborhood,” White said. “We’ve had good feedback, and we’ve had a lot of fun.”

Vidalia Chief Arthur Lewis said he was happy to be in Natchez talking to residents and police officers across the river from his department.

“I think it’s important we all come together, residents and police, to work together,” Lewis said.

Natchez Fire Chief Oliver Stewart said he believed National Night Out had a bigger turnout this year, especially with the number of children out in the streets with their families for the celebration

Eight-year-old Trenyonna Nickelson and nine-year-olds Khalia Sherman and Mercedes Franklin squealed and waved as sirens blasted and police cars cruised by on Minor Street.

Nickelson said she was excited to meet police officers.

“It’s fun and exciting,” she said. “I want to ask them how they got to be police officers.”

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Leroy Butler, right, points and greets law enforcement officers and officials as they arrive on Woodlawn Avenue Tuesday night during the National Night Out event.

Felicia Irving, block captain for Minor Street, said National Night Out signals the end of the summer for kids in her neighborhood. She said it is important to engage the children in community activities, especially those that let them interact with the police.

“It takes their fear of police officers away,” Irving said. “It lets them know that the police are here to protect us and serve us.”

Irving also said National Night Out helps promote a crime prevention partnership between residents and law enforcement.

“It makes the residents feel safe, and it makes them more comfortable to go talk to the police if there is a problem in their neighborhood.”

Over in Woodlawn, everyone from barefoot children to officers in full uniform and senior citizens poured into the street to move their feet to the “Cupid Shuffle” and “Wobble” line dances.

Tywanda Groce fanned her face with a paper plate as she stood on the sidewalk and watched the dancers at her first National Night Out. Groce said she appreciated that police had come out to Woodlawn to introduce themselves to the community.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Minor Street resident Linda Ross hugs Natchez Police Chief Danny White Tuesday night during the National Night Out event.

“I think it’s good because people will know who they are,” she said.

Luviena Williams said she thinks National Night Out lets the police officers have a little fun while interacting with the community.

“I didn’t know the policemen could dance that good,” Cynamon Williams added smiling.

Natchez aldermen James “Rickey” Gray and Tony Fields also participated in Tuesday’s events.