Three communities are hosting National Night Out events

Giannis Gonzalez is all smiles after donning a fire fighter helmet at last year’s National Night Out in London. Gonzalez’s mother, Kaylee Payne (left), said her son got a kick out of seeing all the first responder vehicles and Ygor, the London Police Department’s K-9 officer. This year’s National Night Out in London is set for Aug. 1 at Merri-Mac Park.

(Posted July 31, 2023)

By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor

Three communities in Madison County are holding National Night Out (NNO) events as a way for residents to get to know their first responders in family-friendly settings.

London – Aug. 1
The London Police Department’s NNO event is set for 5-7 p.m. Aug. 1 at Merri-Mac Park, located at Toland Street and Jenkinson Avenue. Admission is free.

Visitors can check out a variety of city vehicles, such as police cruisers, fire trucks, and medics. First responders will be handing out safety information, details about the London Police Department’s smartphone app, and other goodies. Ygor, the police department’s K-9 officer, will be on site.

Children’s games are planned. For the baseball throw, the police department uses a radar gun to see who throws the fastest. Accuracy is the goal with the frisbee can toss.

Free hot dogs, drinks, and ice cream will be offered, and anyone who shows they have downloaded the police department’s smartphone app will be entered into a door prize giveaway.

West Jefferson – Aug. 1
West Jefferson’s NNO festivities are slated for 6-8 p.m. Aug. 1 at the West Jefferson Community Center, 230 Cemetery Rd. Admission is free.

Several first responders, including the West Jefferson Police Department, Jefferson Township Fire Department, West Jefferson post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, will have vehicles on display.

Visitors can expect to see police horses and withness a low flyover by a Columbus Police Department helicopter. AEP is bringing a truck to give bucket rides. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will set up its archery trailer. The village is bringing in an inflatable ax throwing attraction along with traditional inflatables. Hurt/Battelle Memorial Library also is participating in the event.

Thanks to sponsorship from Prologis, everyone is welcome to free treats from Whit’s Frozen Custard. The village is sponsoring free hot dogs, chips, and drinks.

Additionally, the village will pass out books bags and school supplies collected through the recent Cram the Cruiser event, powered by Battelle.

Choctaw Lake – Aug. 12
The lake patrol from the Madison County Sheriff’s Office has opted to hold Choctaw Lake’s 2023 NNO event on a weekend day, rather than the traditional first Tuesday of August. Festivities are set for 4-9:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at the beach, 2875 Oneida Dr., London.

“Every year, we have a good turnout,” said Deputy Jacob Rosales, NNO organizer. “We hope to draw even more people by holding it on a Saturday, so they can see what the event is really about, and we can raise more money for HELP House.”

Proceeds from the event go to HELP House in London to purchase Christmas gifts for local children. Each year, the lake patrol sponsors gifts for approximately 40 youngsters. NNO is the patrol’s largest fundraiser for the cause.

Funds are raised through a raffle, 50/50 drawing, t-shirt sales, and donations for concessions (burgers, hot dogs, and ice cream). This year’s raffle features a wine-themed gift basket, $100 Marathon gas gift card, $100 Speedway gas card, day passes to the Columbus Zoo, and Choctaw/NNO-themed wall art. Look for the raffle ticket table by the beach.

Admission to Choctaw Lake’s NNO is free. A Medflight helicopter will make a landing. The Sheriff’s Office will conduct a boat rescue demonstration on the water. Central Townships Joint Fire District will demonstrate the Jaws of Life in a mock car crash scene. The West Jefferson post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is bringing their K-9 officer, and the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office is bringing a patrol horse. Several other first responders will be present, as well.

Activities include a dunk tank, traditional bounce house, slip-and-slide water bounce house, and access to the beach for swimming. New this year are a water balloon toss and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources archery trailer. Musical entertainment includes Christopher James at 4 p.m., Ryan Peters at 5 p.m., and Lake Effect from 6 p.m. to the end of the event.

The traditional tug-o-war between police officers and fire fighters is on the schedule. New this year, first responders will challenge community members to a tug-o-war battle. Lots of different giveaways also are planned.

This year marks Choctaw Lake’s fifth NNO. In June, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 117 presented the Sheriff’s Office lake patrol with a community service award for the patrol’s ongoing success with the event.

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