National Night Out draws crowds to the Island

National Night Out draws crowds to the Island
Kids splash down into a pool at the end of a giant inflatable waterslide before running back up the stairs to slide down again at National Night Out. The waterslide, one of the most popular attractions in the late afternoon heat, was sponsored by Sato Real Estate. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – Hundreds braved the warm weather and came out to city field for the biggest National Night Out the city has ever seen.

National Night Out is a nationwide program to provide an evening of fun for families and help community members not only become closer with each other but also have a healthy relationship with local law enforcement.

The annual event, in its fourth year, drew children and their parents from as close by as Anna Maria Island and as far away as East Bradenton and Sarasota. Everyone who came out enjoyed lots of fun, food, games and prizes for adults, big kids and little kids. The best part is that the Island community came together along with a few nearby business owners and representatives to put on the family-friendly event for free.

Dozens of sponsors provided bicycles, toys, skateboards, Kindle Fire tablets, books, games, food, drinks, bounce houses, inflatable slides and other attractions for the event. The Sun provided 30 backpacks packed with school supplies which were given out to elementary-age students. All of the donations allowed the Holmes Beach Police Department, serving as coordinator and staff for the event, to not have to charge a penny to the attendees.

Each year the event takes months to plan and dozens of sponsors and volunteers to pull off. City staff gets in on the fun, volunteering for the event, along with some of the city’s elected officials. Commissioner Carol Soustek helped the grill team from Waste Pro hand out hotdogs and chips while Commissioner Jim Kihm walked the field to check on volunteers. Commissioner Pat Morton even took a turn in the dunk tank where he was dropped into the water by City Treasurer Lori Hill. Hill and City Clerk Stacey Johnston helped hand out prizes at the park’s pavilion, which also served as a DJ booth for Code Compliance Officer James Thomas. Code Compliance Officer Nate Brown taught some of the kids new dance moves with the electric slide while volunteer Denise Johnson read to the children and showed them a few dance moves of her own.

“We want to thank all of our donors, sponsors and volunteers,” Chief Bill Tokajer said during the National Night Out festivities. “This is a great event for the community.”

The Holmes Beach National Night Out community celebration is held the first Tuesday in October each year.