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By Shawn Raymundo
Dozens of families and their children came out to Max Berg Park on Tuesday, Aug. 3, for an evening of games, activities and an opportunity to interface with local public safety officers and personnel as part of a National Night Out event.
Held on the first Tuesday of August, National Night Out is billed as a community-building campaign in which first responders and public safety agencies such as the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Orange County Fire Authority can interact with residents face-to-face.
“Whether its Marine Safety, police, whether it’s fire, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) … it’s all of the public safety providers within the community,” said City Manager Erik Sund. “This is a purely educational event, bringing (residents) out to have them educated as to the services that are provided.”
The annual event, Sund continued, is important for everyone to see that the officers and firefighters are “considered a friend to the community and they’re here to protect and serve the community.”
“Today’s events (are) really about the kids, getting out here, having a good time, getting to know our public-safety first responders,” Sund said.
At the park, a line of educational booths hosted by the various public safety departments were set up for residents to ask questions and learn more about the respective agencies’ roles and duties in the community.
And for the kids, they were able to enjoy an inflatable bounce house, games and other activities, such as getting to sit shotgun inside of an OCSD squad vehicle. They also received fun handouts from the agencies, including firefighter helmets from OCFA.
“It was exciting for us to get out and bring helmets and stickers and see the kids again and be out in the community and share a little bit about what we do,” said OCFA Division Chief Rob Capobianco.
Reflecting on the community-building aspect of the night, Capobianco noted that OCFA is a big agency within a big county, so it’s important for the department to maintain small-town relationships.
“Orange County is a big metropolitan area, but that small-town relationship and knowing your firefighters, knowing your police, I think we can still get there, and events like this help us get there,” he said.
Shawn Raymundo is the city editor for the San Clemente Times. He graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Global Studies. Before joining Picket Fence Media, he worked as the government accountability reporter for the Pacific Daily News in the U.S. territory of Guam. Follow him on Twitter @ShawnzyTsunami and follow San Clemente Times @SCTimesNews.