Community enjoys meeting public safety heroes

Children from throughout the Mountain Area were thrilled to sit on a California Highway Patrol motorcycle, behind the wheel of a fire engine, and see first-hand the life-saving equipment in an ambulance during Oakhurst’s first-ever National Night Out in the Old Mill Shopping Center parking lot Aug. 4.

The evening offered area families the perfect opportunity to meet their neighbors - neighbors who serve and protect them as firefighters, CHP officers, sheriff deputies, SWAT team members, sheriff’s department search & rescue personnel, ambulance attendants, and those who volunteer for the Citizens on Patrol program.

Christina Jimenez of Kingsburg attended the event with her 3-year-old daughter Danae who enjoyed trying on protective gear (vest and helmet) worn by members of the Madera County Sheriff’s Department SWAT team.

“Danae had a great time meeting all the law enforcement people, and fireman,” Christina said. “She couldn’t stop talking about dressing up like a member of the SWAT team.”

Kaci Lutz, public information officer with the CHP Oakhurst office, said the purpose of National Night Out was to connect communities across America with the “heroes” of public safety.

Lutz said the event had a great turn-out and provided community members, including children, the chance to see emergency personnel and their equipment in a social, relaxed environment.

“It was really a celebration of public service, safety, and the community,” Lutz said. “We wanted to reach out to the community because it’s a small town, and it’s important everyone is aware of who we are and what we do.”

In addition to the CHP and sheriff’s department, other public service agencies who were at the event included Cal Fire, Madera County Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, Sierra Ambulance, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Others in attendance were a representative of State Senator Tom Berryhill, Assemblyman Frank Bigelow, and Madera County District Attorney David Linn. The Oakhurst Area Chamber of Commerce also had an information booth at Night Out, and food was available from Round Table Pizza, and Supernaw’s Bar-B-Que.

Lutz said due to the popularity of the event, next year’s Night Out may be held at a location that can accommodate a larger crowd.

Details: Kaci Lutz, (559) 658-6611, or JoAnn Evans, community service officer with the sheriff’s department, (559) 642-3201.