By Polly Keary, Editor
National Night Out, now in its fifth year as a project of the Monroe Rotary Club, drew its largest ever crowd Tuesday night, when about 3,000 people turned out for safety information, a scavenger hunt, children’s activities and lots of free food and drink.
Nearly 60 businesses and organizations had booths at the Lake Tye Park event, a 20-percent increase from the previous year.
And a whopping 70 Sahara pizzas, 800 hot dogs, 1,800 cookies and innumerable sno-cones and bottles of water were dispensed at the concession stand at the park.
The size of the turnout wasn’t the best part, though, said Sally Petty, the lead Rotary Club organizer of the event, which the town nearly discontinued for lack of police department funds until the Rotary Club took on the project.
“The best part was definitely the community feel around the park,” said Petty. “Anytime we can get that large a presence of our community together, good things will come out of it.”
The event has become a fixture of Monroe life, Petty said.
“In my opinion, it’s a ‘staple’ in this town,” she said. “Hailey (Petty’s daughter) and I were at the dollar store picking up stuff for the scavenger hunt and we had two full carts of items as prizes (300 or so). The clerk naturally asked ‘what’s all that for’ and I let her know that it was for the National Night Out Against Crime event. She replied with ‘Everyone is talking about this event and my neighbor’s daughter has been excited for it all year.’ Pretty cool stuff.”