National Night Out goes out on a bang

by Geoff Fox

What started as a hot, humid day in Hancock ended in a cool summer evening with people gathered to watch fireworks in Widmeyer Park.

National Night Out, which was held last Tuesday evening, August 1, in Widmeyer Park, drew a large crowd to Hancock to enjoy music, games, food, demonstrations, info booths, and of course fireworks.

Fireworks explode over Hancock Police vehicles at National Night Out on Tuesday evening, August 1. National Night Out is an annual community building campaign promoting police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.

The night kicked off with a welcome from Hancock Police Sgt. Rich Miller, who introduced Rev. James Touchton of the Hancock Church of God and Chaplin for the Hancock Police Department for a prayer.

Shannon McKinley followed Touchton, singing the National Anthem.

Taking to the microphone again, Miller introduced town officials and the Hancock Police Department. Miller then handed the microphone to Mayor Roland Lanehart.

Lanehart thanked town officials for their work and made an announcement that got a large round of applause from those in attendance.

Lanehart said he and the town council had discussed it and were promoting Miller to Chief, handing him his new badge as he was taking off the sergeant badge.

This will be Miller’s second stint as Hancock Police Chief. He served in the same role from 2017 to 2018.

Police agencies from the Hancock Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, West Virginia State Police, Maryland Fire Marshal’s Office, National Park Service Police, and Hagerstown Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office were represented at Hancock National Night Out last Tuesday evening. Picture courtesy Hancock Police.
Newly promoted Hancock Police Chief Rich Miller welcomed everyone to National Night Out and introduced the Hancock Police officers and Hancock town officials to everyone.

Chief Miller then introduced the other police agencies who were being represented that night – Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, National Park Service Police, Maryland State Fire Marshal, West Virginia State Police, and Hagerstown Fire Department Fire Marshal explosives detection K-9.

Calvin, an English Springer Spaniel, and his handler, Deputy Fire Marshal Dale Fishack, gave a small demonstration of how Calvin looks for explosives.

Fishack laid three bags on the ground in front of a small stage and the audience and let Calvin sniff each bag before laying down on the third, which had unused ammunition rounds inside.

Calvin came to the Hagerstown Fire Department, Fire Marshal’s Office in 2014 as part of a grant from The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation, founded by the former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback, and the support of the Antietam Fire Company.

As with the new pickleball courts, the new basketball courts at Widmeyer Park were put to the test with a little three-on-three action throughout the evening.

During the course of the night, folks played pickleball and basketball on the new town courts where the tennis courts once stood.

Long lines started the night at the Lions Pavilion as folks looked to the Lions Club for hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and a bottle of water.

Kids kept active in the Joint Training Facility where there was archery, laser tag, soccer pool tables, and a human foosball table where kids were strapped into the “poles” and kicked a ball toward the nets.

Joint Training Facility offered a number of activities for kids to have some fun such as this version of foosball with the kids acting as the peg-kicking players.

There were also a bounce house and inflatable climbing walls for the younger crowd to play on.

During the entire event, “Take Two” performed music.

At around 9 p.m., a lone firework was sent skyward to let people know the fireworks show was on its way.

A short time later, fireworks of all colors, sizes, and loudness, were shot into the air to the delight of everyone at Widmeyer Park.

Fireworks of red, yellow, pink, green, and every color lit up the sky, capping off National Night Out last Tuesday evening, August 1.
A burst of orange, and what looks like a cat sitting on the burst, gives the smoke from a green firework a psychedelic look over Widmeyer Park during National Night Out.