Once again, the Van Alstyne community showed its support for the city’s police and firefighters/paramedics. More than 1,000 attended last week’s National Night Out event at the community center/first responder complex on North Preston.


Van Alstyne has been active in the National Association of Town Watch’s activity since at least 1996. The purpose, according to NATW’s website, is to build community and promote police-community camaraderie to make safer and more caring places to live.


Both police officers and firefighters did all they could to keep activities moving along, with the help of numerous business and food vendors. The first responders drove a tractor and pulled the very popular kids train for the whole two hours, always with a full load of excited children. They did stop for a short break when the CareFlite helicopter landed on the church lot across the street, so children and others could safely cross the street to get an up-close-and-personal look at the helicopter ambulance.


The bounce house was also a definite favorite. With shoes off, children waited until their turn to climb through tunnels, up a rope on one side and then slide down the other side. Then, they’d run around and get in line again.


Free food included the Rotary Club’s hot dogs and chips, Golden Chick and Sonic were there as vendors. And anyone wanting it could get free water.


Vendors included medical facilities, realtors, churches, safety agencies, scouts, the city’s public library, businesses and government agencies — the whole range of people interested in providing the public with health and safety information. Many of these had games or giveaways for everyone.


There were officers there from the Howe Police Department, Grayson College Police, and deputies from the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Tom Watt arrived after having visited the two other National Night Out activities around the county.


Van Alstyne Police Chief Tim Barnes said he was really gratified by the turnout and the show of support. Barnes leads a full staff of officers, and together with Fire Chief Ryan Dockery’s firefighters/paramedics, they all helped with the set-up and tear-down, and even their dispatchers got into that action as well.


Barnes and officer Nathan Wilson sat in the dunking booth throughout the evening, and both were drenched many times when someone’s well-aimed ball struck the target. Both also came back up from their dunkings wearing big smiles.


Over on the north side of the parking lot, up came the cellphones to video officer Brian Fowlkes and paramedic/firefighter Jaycob Miller line dancing. It was a definite crowd favorite of the evening. And soon, there were many people out on the make-shift dance floor, dancing away to music provided by the disc jockey during the evening.