Standing up against crime, Topton hosted its first Topton National Night Out Free Community Day at Topton Memorial Pool on Aug. 5.
“We saw first hand this year that it’s not just in the big cities whether its crime issues or drug issues,” said Marcus Dolny, Topton Borough Secretary. “The purpose of National Night Out is to show a unified front, where the community is still standing up for itself and standing for everything that’s great about it, safe streets, a great neighborhood to raise kids.”
National Association of Town Watch’s National Night Out culminates on the first Tuesday of August. In 1984, “America’s Night Out Against Crime” began to promote involvement in crime prevention, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back, according to http://natw.org.
National Night Out is “about uniting the community, we’re not going to stand for anything we don’t want here. We’re against crime, we stand unified against it. We don’t want drugs and we don’t want drug dealers feeling they’re safe in this neighborhood. We’re a unified force to say we want you out,” said Dolny.
Talking about recent criminal reports and drug arrests, he said, “Unfortunately, we’ve gotten so much negative press for substantial reasons.”
They wanted people to see “the good part of Topton.”
Dolny said he and Steve Kline, Topton emergency management coordinator, thought it would be the “perfect relationship” to combine National Night Out with free community day and maximize the number of people attending.
“We do have a wonderful community spirit here. That’s what’s on display here today.”
The pool opened at noon offering free admission with games and activities all day with prizes. Rocking out at the pool, Sound Advice provided DJing from 1 to 5 p.m. followed by Heart of Sound Services DJing from 5 until the start of the movie Smurfs 2 that evening.
“This is a great way to show off Topton and everything that’s great about Topton, starting here at the pool and radiating out to all of our businesses,” said Dolny.
From 6 to 9 p.m., Topton welcomed the return of Mermaid Avalon, who painted children’s faces and swam with pool patrons. Also that night, representatives from Topton fire department and ambulance companies displayed their equipment.
“Lots of games and activities, representatives from the council on chemical abuse, local vendors… It’s a packed day with lots going on,” said Dolny. “Hope everyone gets a chance to see what the community is all about and meet their neighbors. Have lots of fun, swim with a mermaid and meet our emergency personnel.”
“It’s a nice day to bring everybody out together,” said Mayor Thomas Biltcliff. “We try to do different things so it interests different people so we can get a good mix of older and younger people in the community.”
Seeing the emergency personnel, Biltcliff hopes the community knows they are there for everyone if they need help.
“They’ve been very supportive through everything and they continue to be,” said Biltcliff about the police, fire and ambulance personnel. “They are always asking what they can do for this community. It’s great to have such great people.”
Biltcliff hopes the community bonds “knowing we’re all together in this.”
Karon Bower, Longswamp, has been going to the pool for a good 40 years. “I like that they have free admission and activities for the kids and the free movie.”
She likes that the National Night Out event gave “kids someplace to go and gives kids something to do.”
Nancy Heffner, Topton resident for 41 years and tax collector for 25 years, said National Night Out is a nice activity to stand up against crime.
“I know Topton is not the only place with a problem. Everyplace has this problem. Topton is just in the news because of the things that are happening,” said Heffner. “I think the town is really trying hard to deal with it.”
“I myself feel Topton is a safe community,” said Heffner. “I have wonderful neighbors, I can walk my dog. I feel very fortunate. I like Topton.”