Different generations embrace National Night Out

In Westminster, multiple events target seniors, youngsters

August 04, 2011|By Katie V. Jones

Diane Stephan has attended the National Night Out ceremonies at PNC Bank's parking lot in Westminster the last few years for one reason — her grandson.

"My grandson enjoys it," said Stephan, opening a bag filled with candy. "It's like Halloween. He won a gift card from Target."

Celebrated around the nation for the last 28 years, National Night Out festivities revolve around local law enforcement and communities coming together in a fun setting. In Westminster, there were five different communities celebrating on a pleasant warm Aug. 2 evening.

"It brings the community together and allows them to express any interests and concerns for the police service," said Pfc. Stephen Launchi of the Westminster Police. "Any issues on their mind they can comment and ask questions."

Launchi said the event helps build trust between citizens and police.

"They live here 24 hours, I'm here eight," Launchi said. "They see stuff that I don't see. By building a rapport and a trust, they come for me.

"The good thing about working in a small community… is people really step up when they need to," he said. "The police department helps them, and they help us."

While the PNC festivities featured a DJ, games and a variety of free food including pizza, cake, soda and candy, festivities at Carroll Lutheran Village focused on a different crowd.

"This is an important place for us to be," said Lt. Misty Budzinsk, of Westminster Police, at Carroll Lutheran Village, a residential complex for seniors. "Seniors get attacked regularly."

Budzinsk spoke with seniors about identity theft and phone solicitors.

"This is an opportunity to share things with them to make better decisions about who they should talk to and what information to give," Budzinsk said, adding with a smile, "I volunteered for this one. It's fun."

A live bluegrass band performed in a gazebo while the large crowd enjoyed watermelon and cookies.

"It's a good evening out," said Betty Thomas, a resident at Carroll Lutheran. "It's very enjoyable."

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