Olney residents and businesses will join forces with police and fire officials on Aug. 7 to celebrate the community’s 19th annual National Night Out.
The inaugural event took place at Longwood Recreation Center in 1993, and since 1996 the Olney Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead in planning the annual tradition and has joined forces with Montgomery County Police, Maryland-National Capital Park Police, Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, Crime Solvers and the Longwood Recreation Center.
Longwood director Sophie Randolph said although she has attended other National Night Out celebrations during the years, Olney’s is different.
“Many are neighborhood oriented — this is the community coming together as a whole,” she said. “It’s gotten bigger and bigger over the years, and has become a large community partnership.”
Olney’s event always begins with a motorcade of dignitaries that travels from the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department’s Station 40 on Georgia Avenue to the event site.
Police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said Montgomery County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger historically begins his evening in Olney, but his schedule was not able to be confirmed as of press time.
She added she is aware of 16 National Night Out events in the county, although more could be added. Last year, there were 29.
Fourth District Deputy Commander Lt. Marc Yamada said he never has been to another NNO events, so he is not sure how Olney compares.
“Having lived in Olney for the past 19 years, I can say that the entire community is actively involved and our National Night Out has a true small town feel to it,” he said. “It is truly a family event where everyone seems to come together.”
Volunteer Fire Department Chief George Brown says he welcomes the opportunity to interact with community members.
“By spending one evening passing out safety information, we hope that means less emergency calls we have to run,” he said. “The name of the game is prevention — we are good at putting out fires and transporting patients, and are willing and happy to do that, but we would rather prevent the problems than respond to them.”
Mark and Mary Ann Malakoff, owners of Kang’s Black Belt Academy in Sandy Spring, are this year’s co-chairs.
“We’ve been involved for years and know that it’s a great event,” said Mark Malakoff. “We work with youth and fitness, and feel that this is a great way to get the whole community involved.”
Mary Ann Malakoff said that as a business owner, NNO is a great venue to spotlight their programs and to meet other business owners.
“I think it is Olney’s best event in terms of organization and bringing the entire community together.
The popular Olney event will include children’s activities and music, as well as food for sale from local restaurants. There also will be business exhibits and raffles.
Local police and fire departments will display some of their equipment, and the U.S. Secret Service will provide free fingerprinting for children.
There also will be demonstrations featuring search and rescue dogs and Park Police horses. If it is hot, the fire trucks will set up a cooling station and will spray water from the tanker engine.
All funds raised at the event will go to the Olney Police Satellite Station, the Sandy Spring Volunteer Fire Department, The Maryland-National Capital Park Police and the Montgomery County Crime Solvers.
Mauk said they are hoping to raise $3,500, which will be divided among the four organizations.
NNO is a crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, an organization dedicated to community-based law enforcement.
The program, celebrated in communities worldwide, is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Olney received an award for its level of participation last year, in the category of communities with a population of 15,000-49,999. It was the ninth time that Olney’s NNO celebration has been recognized.
The event will take place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Fair Hill shopping center, located at Olney-Sandy Spring and Spartan roads.
For more information, call the Chamber office at 301-774-7717 or visit www.olneymd.org.