Charleston families, first responders take stance against crime in National Night Out

Orchard Manor hosted "National Night Out" on Charleston's west side. (WCHS/WVAH)

National Night Out on Charleston's West Side gets started every year with a parade throughout downtown. Police and first responders loop through the West Side area and end at Orchard Manor.

For more than 30 years, Virginia Nesmith has been a part of planning Orchard Manor's event.

"We try to improve every year," Nesmith said Tuesday.

She keeps track of the improvements and memories made each year in a photo book.

"It's all about crime and safety, the police department and interaction with first responders," Nesmith said.

She and her friend, Ralph Miller remember a time when Orchard Manor was very different.

"Just a different kind of crime now, there's different things kids will get into earlier than of course folks back in my time did," Miller said.

Having lived at Orchard Manor as a teenager, Miller said he sees nights like this as an opportunity for kids to interact with first responders in a positive way.

"The biggest thing that they get out of it . . . that they get to know their civil servants like the police and fire departments, the Red Cross and those folks and then the community gets to come together, and make a statement that we don't like crime in our community, and we're gonna do something about it," Miller said.

It cuts both ways. Lt. Steve Cooper said this a great way for his department to connect with families in the community and create an environment where crime is not welcome.

"That is one of the goals of this event itself, is to come out against crime and for the community to come together and let the criminals know you're not welcome here," Cooper said.

Nesmith called it a privilege to have a "Night Out" on crime.

"Otherwise, we might not have that one day where we can remember to say thank you so very much," Nesmith said.

The event lasted until 9 p.m.

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