After a year off because of the pandemic, Haverhill’s National Night Out appeared to draw record crowds that enjoyed games, food and conversation.
Newly installed Police Chief Robert P. Pistone called the celebration at Swasey Field one of his “favorite events of the entire year.”
“We’ve got the entire community out here, all the officers, fire department, Trinity Ambulance. This year, we have the State Police, the sheriff’s department. We have the National Guard here. We also have a lot of community members that set up booths,” he said.
Acknowledging the gathering is part of a larger nationwide effort that puts a focus on community policing, the chief spent the better part of the night talking with residents.
“Really, the biggest thing is having the officers mingle with our citizens. A great opportunity to for us to listen to them and hear their concerns,” he said.
Pistone said he found citizen praise for police most gratifying.
“What’s been wonderful this year is hearing all of their support for us. Just one person after another coming up and so supportive of the police department, letting us know what a great job we’re doing,” he explained.
Besides food, games and mingling, residents were able to meet with local candidates for elected office, send a police officer into the water at the dunk tank and witness a helicopter flyover by the Massachusetts State Police Air Wing.
For many children, National Night Out didn’t end with sundown. The police chief promised to give police station tours to those requesting them.
Although a total count wasn’t immediately available, Greater Lawrence Family Health Center served a steady stream of visitors seeking COVID-19 vaccinations. All forms of the vaccine—Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson—were available. One of the newly vaccinated was City Council candidate Dee Jacobs O’Neil.