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For National Night Out, Lower Swatara police take to the streets, interact with kids

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 8/14/19

Kids swarmed a Lower Swatara Township police car as it drove up to their neighborhood during the evening of Aug. 6.

Residents on Timber Lane were throwing a block party as part of National Night …

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For National Night Out, Lower Swatara police take to the streets, interact with kids

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Kids swarmed a Lower Swatara Township police car as it drove up to their neighborhood during the evening of Aug. 6.

Residents on Timber Lane were throwing a block party as part of National Night Out in the township. The kids went up to the officers, asking if they had any baseball cards.

It was part of a challenge issued by the police department — the first three kids who collected the different baseball cards, each containing the picture and information about the officers, would receive a $10 McDonald’s gift card.

When Detective Bob Appleby’s car pulled up, the kids gathered around, asking him if he had any.

They eagerly waited as he signed the cards.

“You guys make us feel important,” Appleby told them.

This year, Lower Swatara decided to hold its own National Night Out event, asking residents to get out of their houses and meet their neighbors.

The Press & Journal tagged along with Chief Jeff Vargo.

“I thought it was very successful,” Vargo said at the end of the night.

He said he liked to see the smile on the kids’ faces when they were handed a baseball card, adding that the residents got to see the officers on a personal level.

Vargo drove through the neighborhoods, waving to residents who were walking. Throughout the two-hour event, officers were out and about, radioing each other when they ran across people sitting outside or holding a block party.

Vargo started the night out at a block party on Davis Drive where neighbors from that street and North Union Street held a block party with food and chalk for the kids to play with.

“I really don’t know many of my neighbors, to be honest,” said resident Rachel Felty.

Vargo gave Rachel’s daughter, Quinn, a police badge sticker, coloring books and a Frisbee.

He asked the residents if they had any concerns they wanted to share.

Speeding, one resident said.

Littering, said another.

Resident Nancy Avolese commended Vargo for the community outreach that his department has been doing. Vargo took over the department in January.

“You’re just amazing,” she said.

The next National Night Out stop was the Lower Swatara Lions Club clubhouse in Shope Gardens where Lions were handing out free popcorn.

Then one of the officers radioed that there was a block party being held on Timber Lane in the Woodridge development.

About 20 people were hanging out in the driveway of one of the homes. Kids were running around, squirting each other, and sometimes the officers, with Silly String. 

One of the residents, Christa Aman, explained that the kids go to different schools, but they like to get together and play.

The group was planning on going together to National Night Out in Hoffer Park. When they heard that the township was holding its own event, they threw a block party together.

Nearing the end of the night, one of the kids, Safia Aman had about a dozen baseball cards.

“You have to sign it,” she reminded the officers.

The kids lined up to sit in Vargo’s squad car and test the lights and sirens or hold Appleby’s badge and vest.

“It looks like a floaty,” said Lucy Stevenson, looking at Appleby’s vest.