Pleasant Hills National Night Out parade honors first responders
As police, fire and emergency service vehicles weaved their way through the streets of Pleasant Hills on July 30 in celebration of the annual National Night Out, Ali King, 9, was especially excited to see one officer come through the route: her dad.
“I was surprised to see him. It was really awesome,” said Ali, whose dad, Kevin is a sergeant with Jefferson Hills police.
As the procession made its way past the family’s Pleasant Hills home, Kevin slowed his vehicle down, threw extra candy and blew kisses. Ali, her brothers Xander and Kaden, and cousin Danny Giegerich, whose dad is a county sheriff, all wore T-shirts that said: “My dad is my hero” with the police flag in the middle.
“It’s really cool that they do this,” mom Kristy King said of the night.
First responders from across the county paraded through roughly 15 miles of streets in Pleasant Hills, with sirens blaring and horns honking in honor of National Night Out, an annual community-building campaign through the National Association of Town Watch meant to bolster police/community relations.
Pleasant Hills traditionally has hosted the event one week prior to the national night so first responders from other regions can join in the event. First responders come from as close as Whitehall and Baldwin and as far as West View to join in the parade.
Residents line the streets and many hold block parties.
“We’re showing that we’re out there for them,” Police Chief Brian Finnerty said.
The night provides the opportunity for residents to hang out with their neighbors, and hopefully learn that they can rely on their neighbors, too, Finnerty said.
For first responders, in a time when they face resistance across the nation, it shows that they still have support and that “the silent majority is out there,” Finnerty said.
Scott Township Officer Shawn Kosanovich grew up in Pleasant Hills and always wanted to be a police officer. Kosanovich, now of Jefferson Hills, remembers watching the parade of officers in his earlier years and wanting to be a part of it.
“It’s a sense of pride and it reinstitutes why I do what I do,” said Kosanovich, who rode in a vehicle with his son, Michael, 4.
Many first responders brought their families along for the ride.
Finnerty’s son, Brock, and friend Vinny McCauley, both 7, dressed up in police uniforms.
Brock, who someday hopes to go into the Air Force, does it “because I like the police,” he said.
Vinny wants to be a police officer someday because, as he put it, “they’re cool.”
“America needs more nights like tonight,” said Michael Thatcher, magisterial district judge.
Mayor William Trimbath said the night is “a great opportunity for residents to show their support for our police, our firefighters, our EMTs.”
He compared it to a football tailgate, where neighbors who would not normally come together join in for parties and get to know one another.
“It’s one of the highlights of the summer here in Pleasant Hills,” council president Dan Soltesz said.
Lana and Bob Timmins, who have lived in Pleasant Hills for 36 years, hosted about 40 people for a party at their home on Nantucket Drive. Lana laughs that all she had to do was sweep the garage floor, the neighbors took care of the rest. Tables and chairs started arriving by lunchtime and Lana and the neighborhood kids began decorating at 3 p.m.
The neighbors filled three tables of food, with everything from cheeseburgers to potstickers.
“It’s the best neighborhood and everyone appreciates everyone,” she said.
Ernie Vattimo, 62, a 17-year resident of Pleasant Hills, enjoys the night with his neighbors.
“You have at least one day out of the year that you can put aside and we can all get together with the kids and all of us and sit down and have a meal and talk about what’s going on with their lives,” he said.
And the first responders: “It’s nice to have a night like this and pay homage to all of them.”