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Parents learn as their kids have fun on National Night Out

POSTED: August 10, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Tim Simmons, of the Gainesville Fire Deptartment, watches as Jack Luttrell climbs off a fire truck during the National Night Out at Little-Davenport Funeral Home Tuesday evening.

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Stan Luttrell and his brother-in-law brought their collective nine children to climb on and through fire engines Tuesday night.

"Free food helps when you have four children, too," said Luttrell, head football coach at Chestatee High School in Northwest Hall, speaking of his own youngsters.

Plenty of families fanned out across the parking lot at Little-Davenport Funeral Home to check out emergency vehicles and meet police officers and firefighters as part of National Night Out, an event designed to promote public safety.

Neighborhood Watch started the program 25 years ago. Little-Davenport, at 335 Dawsonville Highway, has been involved with the event the past two, said Billy Hendrix, spokesman for the funeral home.

One hour into the two-hour event, some 200 to 300 people had combed through the exhibits and met with public safety officials and others.

"It’s been a great turnout," he said. "The community has really come out to support it."

Vehicles were the big attraction for children, with firefighters giving the tiny ones a boost to the more lofty sections of the engines. Children also got to aim a radar gun at passing motorists on Dawsonville Highway.

Area law enforcement agencies had set up tables with information on a wide range of topics, such as how to set up a crime-watch program and how to keep safe during a severe storm.

Many people got information about identity theft and seat belt safety, Hendrix said.

Randall Moon, Oakwood police chief, said the event also served to strengthen ties between law enforcement and area residents.

"We know our job is increasingly difficult every year," he said. "The city grows and crime comes into the city, and we can’t (handle it all) by ourselves.

"You need citizens’ help, citizens’ input, and that’s the good thing about this — it allows the citizens to come out and see the programs that you offer and how they operate, and see ways they can help you and you can help them."

Ann Teague of Gainesville said she brought her 8-year-old son, Sean, to the event because "we’re big supporters of law enforcement in the community."

She said she took a Citizens Law Enforcement Academy class sponsored by the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.

"I thought I would come out and show my support for them," she said. "Plus, they have a lot of good safety things and tips for the kids."

Hendrix said he would like to see the funeral home sponsor the event for a third year.

"We’d like to get more businesses involved," he said. "It’s all about strengthening community partnerships."



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