COMPTON PRIDE ON NATIONAL NIGHT OUT
COMPTON — On Tuesday, Aug. 7, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the city of Compton, and many local businesses hosted the National Night Out celebration, bringing community members together for an evening of food, fun and entertainment.
The 29th annual National Night Out is a crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Last year's National Night Out involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from 15,110 communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. More than 37 million people participated in 2011.
Hundreds of residents came to the event at Gateway Center and enjoyed barbecue favorites, courtesy of Target.
“We have hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill, along with chips, soda and water,” Target spokesperson Shaina Magdaleno said. “This is Target’s fourth year celebrating in Compton, and the event keeps on growing.”
Employees joined in the celebration and distributed assorted goodies to visitors.
“We have our eco-friendly reusable bags and Frisbees for the kids,” Magdaleno said. “The kids are also using arts and crafts supplies donated by Target, and they made some fabulous parking lot drawings.”
Faith Inspirational Church was well represented at the event and entertained the crowd. “They asked me to sing the national anthem, and I jumped at the chance,” church member Kedrick Johnson said. “The choir also performed tonight.”
LASD Compton Station Explorers had their color guard on hand and led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance. The group manned its own tent and offered residents information on making the Hub City safer.
“The community is out in full force tonight and having a marvelous time” Compton Station Lt. Jerry Cummings said. “There are people here who take safety personally and back up their talk with new neighborhood watch groups.”
National Night Out has grown over the years, he said, and that is a tribute to the residents of the Hub City.
“Businesses are coming back to the community,” Cummings said. “Gateway Center did not exist during my previous tenure, and fantastic businesses like TGI Fridays and Target contribute to the community’s success.”
Compton Youth Activities League Director Rosalina Munoz was also at the event, and she announced a new partnership with multimedia company MADMAC, which adds valuable jobs skills for participants.
“Partnering with MADMAC offers positive opportunities to our older YAL participants,” she said. “This is another tool in their toolbox, and can create life-changing opportunities.”
The children can choose between video, photography and disc jockey programs, and market their services locally.
“There are kids who want to do better than selling drugs, and we give them real life job skills that generate substantial income,” founder Kevin Kim said. “They leave the program with skills and a strong work ethic.”
The group plans a mid-August premiere at YAL headquarters, located at 700 N. Alameda St.
“The Network for a Healthy California and Compton Unified School District support National Night Out, and we have healthy cookbooks for parents and fun activity items with a positive message for children,” Network Nutrition Coordinator Gina Simoes said. “We promote smart choices at school and this event puts us in front of many parents who make nutritional decisions for the entire family.”
Attendees also watched basic life support demonstrations by Explorer 1 Ambulance Service employees.
“These skills do not provide lifesaving expertise, but residents can make a difference if they encounter an emergent situation,” Explorer 1 Ambulance Chief Sulcan Mohamed said.
Giving back to the community is a personal pleasure, and he remembers being a child growing up with no money in the Hub City.
“Events like this did not exist when I was growing up in Compton,” Mohamed said. “We must offer opportunities to children and give them positive goals to strive for.”
Deputy Quiana Birkbeck watched over the event.
“I checked people in as they arrived and dealt with issues when necessary,” she said. “We are in great shape, and the event runs itself at this point.”
More information about National Night Out can be found on the web at nationalnightout.org.