National Night Out is America’s night out against crime. In Jacksonville, the event is held annually on the first Tuesday of August at Riverwalk Crossing Park downtown. The city of Jacksonville, along with Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station New River, Swansboro, North Topsail Beach, Richlands, and Holly Ridge come together with Onslow County representatives to stand together as one community.

“Bringing this community together, on a grand scale like this, is amazing,” said Col. Scott Baldwin, deputy commander, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune-Marine Corps Installations East. “MCB Camp Lejeune and MCAS New River are excited to be a part of this. Unity in the community is imperative to the safety and well-being of residents.”

The smell of food filled the air as vendors arrived to feed the crowds. The annual event celebrated community and promoted crime prevention. More than 12,000 citizens attend each year and 2019’s event was no exception.

“We have tons of tents and vendors,” said Sammy Phillips, mayor of Jacksonville. “The giveaways will provide a lot of students with some of the school supplies needed for the upcoming school year.”

Live music, giveaways and police dog demonstrations were just some of the many sources of entertainment for the crowd. Children picked up new back packs filled with pencils and paper, 83 bicycles were raffled off by the Jacksonville Police Department with business partners and gifts of t-shirts or water bottles were given out at most tents. Children enjoyed learning about the military vehicles, police and fire vehicles, as well as a variety of trucks, motorcycles and cars on exhibit. Fireworks topped off the evening’s celebration.

“This event is great every year,” said Mike Jones, former U.S. Marine. “The kids always have fun and there is a lot of information for the adults. The food trucks are always our last stop and the options are awesome.”

Jacksonville’s event was free and open to the public.

“Our community is strong,” Phillips said. “This event emphasizes the importance of one community by bringing all the small parts together. Between the multi-city officials, law enforcement and military presence, there is fun to be had for people of all ages. We show a united front and community spirit.”