Chatting up a conversation with emergency responders at National Night Out

Port Orchard’s event offers community members a chance to meet, learn from first responders

PORT ORCHARD — Matt Murphy, Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce executive director and Kitsap County’s erstwhile cornhole evangelist, cornered the city’s new head police officer, Chief Matt Brown, and talked him into trying a round of the pub and backyard game.

Brown was game for a try during the National Night Out gathering Tuesday evening, across the street from Port Orchard City Hall. Two attempts tossing the bean bags underhand toward an opening on a flat cornhole board came in well short of their target. Given a third attempt, Brown — perhaps a baseball ringer from his school days — threw the bag overhanded dead-center into the hole from 45 feet out. (Two attempts by a news reporter were wild tosses — the first nearly hit Murphy, the second came up short of the board).

The fun board game was just one of many carnival-style games offered by South Kitsap social-service and emergency response agencies for the hundreds of residents who visited the local National Night Out festivities, organized by the Port Orchard Police Department and Public Safety Officer Amy Coull.

A youngster competes with Sparky to restart the heart of a CPR practice manikin. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

A youngster competes with Sparky to restart the heart of a CPR practice manikin. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

If the gathering felt more like a carnival arcade than a sleepy information event, that was on purpose, Coull said.

“National Night Out is our way of fostering a community relationship with our emergency responders — police, fire, search and rescue, and medical aid,” she added. “It’s a good time for people to come out and have a good time, and not have to interact with them when they’re having their worst time.”

With the band Ignite playing rock in the background, the family-oriented crowd — heavy on the youngster ratio — was able to chat with members from the Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management’s Search and Rescue team, plus meet and pet a couple of the amiable search-and-sniff canines stretched out in front of their booth at the event.

South Kitsap Helpline was also ensconced at the fair alongside Kitsap 911, which had a prize wheel, pencils and stickers for the kids. A young area resident, Piper Willson, even had a game up and running to promote a fun run she will participate in to benefit cystic fibrosis research.

Port Orchard’s National Night Out event is just one of many throughout Kitsap County and the nation. The event, which is celebrated across the U.S. on the night of Aug. 6, is in its 36th consecutive year. It was created in 1984 following the lead of a local volunteer for the Lower Merion (Pennsylvania) Community Watch program.

Kitsap County Search Dogs unit of professional volunteers stands alongside search canines at the National Night Out event in Port Orchard Tuesday evening. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

Kitsap County Search Dogs unit of professional volunteers stands alongside search canines at the National Night Out event in Port Orchard Tuesday evening. (Bob Smith | Kitsap Daily News)

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