APD Officer Kalandria Peterson has fun sharing a dance with Emonyei Ward, 8, during National Night Out at the Albany Civic Center Tuesday night. The event, hosted by the Albany Police Department, is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and promotes police-community programs such as drug prevention, neighborhood watch and anti-crime efforts.
ALBANY -- When police, residents and children all dance the "Wobble" to the beat together, it's a unique community moment.
Keeping the community together in the fight against crime, the National Night Out sponsored by the Albany Police Department featured free food, school supplies and other treats including music and the Wobble line dance.
"This is so good for the community. Most people don't get to be like this with police in Albany," said Valentina McClain of Albany. "It is especially good for the kids to not be afraid of the police."
Members of the Lily Pad's groups including Firefly House, The Boren Center and others who deal with abused children were on hand. They gave temporary tattoos to children.
On the serious side, they were there to introduce themselves to the community in case their services are needed, said Amy Boney, interim executive director.
"This way children and adults know who we are," Boney said. "The tattoos are for fun."
The event started at 5 p.m. in The Albany Civic Center. By 6 p.m. there were more than 400 people ticketed in through the doors. With two hours to go, more people lined up at the door and they just kept coming.
National Night Out made its debut in 1984. The National Association of Town Watch sponsors it nationally. It grew out of lights-on vigils into block parties, festivals, and other events to help bring neighbors together.
The event aims to increase awareness about police programs on drug prevention, neighborhood watch and other anti-crime efforts. That's why Elisha Ravenna and his fellow Americorps volunteers staffed a table at the night out.
"We're signing people up so we can let them know when we have programs on bullying, gangs, ID theft and other things," Ravenna said. "We want people to feel comfortable with us and the police."
Comfortable enough to do the Wobble.