It's usually a good sign that an event went well when multiple members of City Commission take time out of a regular meeting to give a standing ovation to a member of the audience for hosting that event, which is exactly what happened to Marshall Police Chief Jesus "Eddie" Campa this past Thursday.
The commission wanted to specifically recognize Campa for the and his department's efforts in hosting the first truly city-wide National Night Out celebration and for making it a big success, both as an entertaining event for residents to enjoy and for staying true to the purpose of the national celebration that brought in around 2,000 attendees, according to their Facebook page.
Free hotdogs and burgers, cooked all night by volunteers from the Harrison County Sheriff's Office including Sheriff Tom McCool, were definitely a popular item as the lines for the tasty treats stretched out into the Harrison County Courthouse square for almost the entire night.
The event had a great variety of activities for all to enjoy and plenty of children had wide smiles on as they enjoyed bounce houses, inflatable slides, face painting booths and classic carnival games. Representatives from All Cypress Veterinary Hospital even brought some goats and baby pigs for a miniature petting zoo.
Great entertainment was planned out for the adults as well. Attendees got to check out a classic car show, tour booths to learn more about different community services, participate in a raffle and listen to live performances from the East Texas Baptist University Marching Band.
Some of the most popular events of the night were the live demonstrations put on by the Marshall Police SWAT and K-9 team members. Attendees gasped, cheered and learned about the different tactics these units use to make sure both the officers and the residents they are trying to protect stay safe in life-threaten scenarios. For the K-9 demonstrations, attendees watched how these officers and their canine companions sniff out illegal drugs and take down criminals during drug and bite demonstrations, while Capt. John Best explained why the dogs and officers do certain actions to keep each other safe. The SWAT demonstration featured a high-risk vehicle arrest scenario, which gave audience members quite a jump when a flashbang was used to arrest the suspect and secure the innocent passenger inside.
One of the most important aspects of the night, however, was the level of interaction between residents and members of the city's police and fire departments. Residents could be seen regularly chatting with SWAT members or other officers in uniform, snapping selfies with them and learning about what they do to keep Marshall safe.
The focal point of National Night Out, both as an organization and an event, is to show potential criminals that residents and the civil servants of the communities they are trying to hurt will stand together against crime. Residents truly had an opportunity to know some of the faces behind the badges that are looking out for them every day within a fun family setting. Great National Night Out Tuesday night and we are looking forward to an even bigger and better National Night Out next year.