(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) -- St. Joseph's Civic Center Park was the safest place to be in town on Tuesday evening. Assembled there were emergency responders from police, fire, ambulance and others.
It was all part of National Night Out, a yearly event designed as a meet and greet with area kids.
"I learned about police and firefighters," said 5-year-old Chloe Sprake, who was there with her parents to learn that police, fire and other emergency crews are there to help.
"If ever there was a situation where she was lost or scared or in trouble and couldn't find one of us, that's who you run to, said Chloe's mother, Sarah. "We thought it was inmportant for her to physically see it and get an experience of that."
Hundreds came out to the park to join in all the fun, coordinated by the St. Joseph Police Department.
"We get to have them check out our vehicles and just talk and have a fun conversation, said Sgt. Roy Hoskins, the department's crime prevention specialist. "They can see all the fun toys and equipment."
There's no doubt the kids had fun climbing on and around the Special Respnse Team's bearcat unit along with getting behind the wheel of a police car and even sounding the siren of a firetruck.
However, Hoskins said he and his colleagues enjoy the yearly event as well.
"After 23 years of doing this sometimes I lose sight about what this job is about," Hoskins said. "When I do things like this it recenters me and reminds me about why I do what I do."
It even provided a chance to recruit some future emergency responders, including a future 5th grader from Lindbergh Elementary School.
"I wanted to be an engineer but now I want to be a cop or maybe a firefighter," said 10-year-old Rocarean Goodwin, who was checking out the view from inside an SJFD firetruck.
Hoskins liked the interaction with all the kids.
"I start recruiting as early as I can. We need future officers," he said.
St. Joseph was one of 16,000 communities nationwide participating in the National Night Out event.
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