National Night Out celebrated with ice cream sundaes

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Manchester - posted Thu., Aug. 8, 2013
Manchester East Side Neighborhood Block Watch President Mary Walsh (right) takes an ice cream order from Jowell and his sister, Xiamara. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Manchester East Side Neighborhood Block Watch President Mary Walsh (right) takes an ice cream order from Jowell and his sister, Xiamara. Photos by Annie Gentile.

Who doesn’t enjoy sweet, delicious ice cream in the summer - especially if you get to add your own syrupy toppings, whipped cream and sprinkles?

On Tuesday, Aug. 6, the Manchester East Side Neighborhood Block Watch (formerly the Spruce Street Area Block Watch) - with the much-appreciated support of Royal Ice Cream - celebrated National Night Out, offering free ice cream sundaes in the outdoor patio at the Eastside Neighborhood Resource Center at 153 Spruce St.

“We usually have [the ice cream social] this time of year in conjunction with National Night Out,” said Susan Mathiau, a member of the Block Watch group.

Block Watch president Mary Walsh, who, along with Mathiau, lives in the Spruce Street area neighborhood, said they enjoy doing the event each year for the kids.

Block Watch members also got support from the local police, including Sgt. Cleon Moses, who works with the community policing unit. Moses took Leslie Frye, one of the Block Watch’s founding members, along for a ride in his cruiser and allowed her to use the public address system to round up kids in the neighborhood to let them know they could get a free sundae. The idea seemed to work, as plenty of children and parents dropped by for a treat.

“Any time we have something for the young folks, the police try to participate and show their support,” said Moses. “We want to build a good rapport.”

Walsh said they are particularly grateful to Royal Ice Cream for their donation: three boxes of individually packed scoops of ice cream totaling around 200 servings. Visitors had an opportunity to show the local ice cream business their appreciation by signing a large “Thank You” card. “They’re very generous,” she said. “We usually go through all of the ice cream.”

National Night Out is an initiative of the National Association of Town Watch, a non-profit organization that promotes crime prevention programs, neighborhood watch groups, and partnerships between local police and the communities they serve. Held since 1984 on the first Tuesday in August, the event involves more than 37 million people and 15,000 communities across the United States, Canada and U.S. military bases. Events may include not only ice cream socials such as was held in Manchester, but also block parties, cookouts, parades, youth events, safety demonstrations - just about anything that builds positive community relationships.

Frey said the National Night Out initiative also involves encouraging neighbors to leave their porch lights on all night. The “lights on” campaign sends a message about the value of community, getting to know your neighbors, and sending a message that safety and looking out for one another is important.

“The event used to be a big thing in Center Park, but it’s held here now,” said Walsh. “It’s a nice little way to build community.”

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