NOLANVILLE — The Nolanville community celebrated the National Night Out at their new Mary Marie Multi-Use Center Tuesday evening.

The National Night Out is an annual community event promoting safer neighborhoods. It also aims to enhance the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement to bring back a true sense of community.

“Today is about getting out and meeting your neighbors and your police officers,” said Kara Escajeda, Nolanville city manager. “We want to feel that community bond that makes everybody safer when you know who is around you. It gives a better sense of community.”

The campaign also provides an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. The children especially enjoyed meeting their local police officers and firefighters.

“This is a great deal for the kids,” said Steve Turner, a lieutenant with Central Bell County Fire & Rescue. “In a fire, we can become scary with our mask and all of our gear on. Meeting us like this makes them more comfortable around us and it helps them to feel a real connection to us.”

Kids were able to take a look inside a fire truck, operate its sirens and put on protective gear with the help of the local firefighters.

“This is great,” said Tabatha Navarro from Nolanville, who visited the event with her children Bella, 7, and Torrinse, 11. “The kids get to see what the community is like and they can talk to neighbors they didn’t even know before.”

The National Night Out celebrations followed the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Mary Marie Multi-Use Center to officially open the building for the community.

The new community center is located at 400 Mesquite St. and will offer a variety of activities, including events for the Clements Boys and Girls Club.

Nolanville police officer Christel Heubach used the opportunity to speak to the elementary-age children from the Boys and Girls Clubabout bullying.

“I explained to them the different types of bullying,” Heubach said. “We went into small groups and we talked about if they were every bullied or if they ever bullied someone — they were very open about it.”

Heubach said almost every participant had already experienced problems with bullying in or outside school.

“It is a bigger deal these days but much to my surprise they were not afraid to tell somebody,” she said. “That is a good thing. Even though they are being bullied at school or at the boys and girls club, they know they can go to adults and talk to somebody.”

To round up their training with the local police department, participating kids took a pledge against bullying and received a bracelet to demonstrate they stand up for those being bullied.

“It is good for them to know us and know they can ... feel comfortable to come and speak to us,” Heubach said. “We are here for them, not against them.”

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