SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Ice cream, giant inflatable bounce houses, real-life fire trucks and a movie played on an enormous outdoor screen set the stage for a summer afternoon most children fantasize about.

But this idyllic evening wasn't all fun and games; sprinkled among the rounds of beanbag toss and obstacle courses also were important lessons on building a better community.

Island Palm Communities and U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii hosted the 30th annual National Night Out at the Kaena Community Center, here, Aug. 6.

Since 1984, National Night Out has been held throughout the U.S. on the first Tuesday of August to highlight the importance of neighborhood safety through face-to-face interaction with police, firefighters, paramedics and other safety officers so that residents, especially children, will be familiar with them and know who to call in an emergency situation.

"National Night Out is everything that has to do with safety," said Sheryl Ferido, event coordinator and marketing manager, IPC. "It's bringing the community together with law enforcement, emergency services, and we're bringing the element of military housing in as well to show the partnership we have with our families and emergency services."

"This is an event where neighbors can come together, get to know one another and help to promote general activities," added Antonio Williams, deputy chief of police, Directorate of Emergency Services, USAG-HI. "This is an opportunity to meet the community on an even ground where we can talk to them and educate them about what we do; it's all about education and awareness."

Activities intending to do just that included bouncers, games, face painting, balloon animals, family photo booths, a static fire engine display by Federal Fire Department-Hawaii, working dog demos with the 520th Military Working Dog Detachment, an obstacle course led by the DES bike patrol, and the opportunity for keiki to obtain their very own keiki ID badge to help keep them safe.

Other highlights included a pineapple dessert contest, live entertainment by talent such as Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Sing The Body and a showing of the DreamWorks Animation hit "Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted" on the park lawn.

"It's just good that we can have our first-responders come out and introduce ourselves to the community," said Battalion Chief Neil Fujioka, FFD. "Basically, we want to educate everybody on what we do and answer any questions they may have, now, just to show we're out there for the community and to protect the community."

"It's important that we show our support to our police and fire professionals," added Col. Daniel Whitney, commander, USAG-HI. "My No. 1 priority, as commander, is a safe and secure environment, and an integral piece of that are the police and firefighters we have both here on Oahu and at PTA (Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island).

"It is our No. 1 priority to display them to the community and, most importantly, have the great men and women of law enforcement and fire response services be recognized by the community," Whitney concluded.

According to event-goers, this year's National Night Out was bigger and better than ever, thanks in no small part to Ferido and all of the volunteers and sponsors who contributed their energy and resources toward making the event possible.

"You can tell IPC has put a lot of time and effort into this, and it's really helping with Neighborhood Watch and improving the safety of the communities," said Katherine Collins, Cub Scouts Pack 176, and block captain with the Sperry Loop/Curtis Loop Neighborhood Watch Program on Wheeler Army Airfield. "It's been wonderful for children and families to get to know their community helpers, and it's really bringing the community together and helping us recruit, too!"

"It's just a fun family night where things are a little more cohesive -- one unit, all together," Ferido noted.

"As long as people start looking out for each other," added Dennis Drake, director, USAG-HI Public Affairs, "then you can really start to build that community spirit."

Crime-Fighting Resources
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, along with the Department of the Army, offers a variety of ways to report suspicious activity and to fight. The following list of contacts is designed to empower you and your family.

Safety Officers
To report suspicious activity on post, call:
•Fort Shafter Police Station, (808) 438-7114; and
•Schofield Barracks Police Station, (808) 655-7114.
Call 911 to report all suspicious activity off post.
Questions and rumor control can be made to USAG-HI's Directorate of EmergencyServices, (808) 656-6750.

Neighborhood Watch
The Neighborhood Watch Program is a network of neighbors, trained by crime prevention officers from DES, who serve as additional eyes and ears in their communities.
To get involved with your local Neighborhood Watch Program, contact:
•Fort Shafter Police Station, (808) 438-7114; or
•Schofield Barracks Police, (808) 655-7114.

iWatch, iReport, iKeep Us Safe (iWatch Army) is a community program to help your neighborhood stay safe from terrorist activities.
To learn more about the Army's iWATCH antiterrorist awareness program, visit

Page last updated Thu August 15th, 2013 at 20:02