It was a night of fun and fellowship during National Night Out Tuesday at the Pine Bluff Convention Center. The event is hosted annually by the City of Pine Bluff and the Pine Bluff Police Department.
“It’s a nationwide event for awareness on crime,” said Pine Bluff Police Department Deputy Chief Shirley Warrior. “All of the community gets together in one place under one umbrella and have fun. It’s like a big block party.”
The annual event, now in its 25th year in Pine Bluff, draws hundreds to the convention center to interact with not only local law enforcement, but also community organizations.
“We have one of the biggest ones, because we’re at the convention center,” said Warrior of National Night Out. “It’s where you can come and get to know your neighbors and you can get to know the other people in the community to see what they’re offering.”
According to Warrior, more than 20 vendors participated in this year’s National Night Out. Members of Omega Psi Phi, Inc. were one of many National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations at the event.
“Our mission from the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. standpoint is to always give back and our focus is on our communities and our young people as well,” said Quranner Cotledge.
“So this is an opportunity for us as an organization founded in 1911 to make sure we are carrying out the mission that our forefathers gave to us. The Tau Phi graduate chapter and the Omegas of Pine Bluff are fulfilling that commitment.”
Attendees stopped at every booth to chat and pick up goodie bags. Everything provided, whether food or games, was free for those in attendance.
“This is a viable community and Omegas have always wanted to be a part of something that is positive,” Cotledge said. “We view this as a positive opportunity to not only display our organization, but other organizations as well and our commitment as a community to come together on this night out.”
Brandon Smith brought his son Keaton Smith and niece Morgan Jones to the festivities. There was something for everyone of all ages to enjoy, including live entertainment by the prison band for adults and bounce houses for children.
“We come for the good hospitality and the events,” Brandon Smith said. “They have good games for the community and it gives us something to do.”
Every year, Diane Charles takes her 6-year-old great-niece Mikylei Johnson to National Night Out. She said that besides meeting different people, Mikeylei loves the games and prizes offered.
“We always enjoy coming out,” Charles said. “I think it brings a lot of people together. It is very important to bring the children out and let them meet the officers to know that they’re kind and rewarding rather than what we see on television.”