Pleasant Hills community celebrates National Night Out
Dominic Fascetti, 10, stood along Old Clairton Road on July 31 and heartily waved as droves of first responders rode by with their lights flashing and sirens blaring.
He wanted to say “Thank You” to the police, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel as they drove past during Pleasant Hills Borough’s 24th National Night Out celebration.
“They help our community,” said Dominic, of Jefferson Hills, who will be a fifth grader at Jefferson Hills Intermediate School this fall. “They save people from bad guys who want to hurt innocent people.”
Across Pleasant Hills, residents lined the streets, held block parties and gathered with their neighbors Tuesday evening, as a parade of first responders from as far away as Frazer Township and Pittsburgh paraded through the community.
National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign through the National Association of Town Watch meant to bolster police/community relations.
Pleasant Hills police holds their event a week prior to the national night to allow officers from across the region to partake in the borough’s celebration.
“It means as much for the community as it does for the police,” Pleasant Hills Mayor William Trimbath said. “Residents can show their support for the police, firefighters and EMS on this night.”
There were about 80 units that took part in the parade, and 20 residents registered a block party with police.
Despite threatening rain clouds above, residents packed their yards and sidewalks to say “Thank You.”
“We were inundated with calls all day asking if we were still going to have it,” Pleasant Hills police Chief Brian Finnerty said. “No matter what the weather was like, we were still going to do it regardless because people are still going to be on their porches, hanging out with their neighbors.”
The evening gives neighbors a chance to get together and connect.
Kids that graduated years ago come home and old neighbors reconnect.
“It’s almost like a family reunion, but on a Tuesday night,” Finnerty said.
Greg and Liz Davis of National Drive brought their two children, Nathaniel and Alaina to Pleasant Hills Public Library to watch the festivities. They typically go to a block party on their street. Yet, even at the library, they were with neighbors.
“It’s great to get out of the house and see your neighbors when you’re not cutting the grass or doing work outside,” Greg Davis said.
The evening means just as much for the first responders, Trimbath said. It allows them to come together and see each first responders from other regions they might only have the chance to otherwise see on the job.
“This is a night that just makes you proud to be an American,” said Michael Thatcher, a Pleasant Hills firefighter, who also serves as magisterial district judge in the area.
When riding in the parade last year, Thatcher said, his 5-year-old daughter got to meet a female police officer from Pleasant Hills. She wanted to be a police officer after that.
Pleasant Hills Sgt. Bryan Frankenfield has visited block parties almost every year on National Night Out. As part of the evening, first responders visit block parties registered with the borough and bring goodies and chat with youngsters at the parties.
Over the years, Frankenfield said the support has fluctuated, like after Sept. 11, 2001, people came out in droves to show they were behind first responders. Again, over the last several years, “the support from the community has just been tremendous,” he said.
The police hope this helps people to see them in a different light.
Giana Fascetti, 7, said, like her brother, she just wanted to say “Thank You” to the first responders “because they help take care of us.”
“It’s important that they are here for us,” she said.
Of course, the kids also loved the candy the first responders throw out during the parade. Dominic said he often gets too much and it takes him more than a week to eat it all.
“It’s tradition,” he said.
Jadeyn Lieu, 11, and her brother Owen, 8, came from Murrysville, to visit her cousins and watch the parade.
“It’s really special that you can all get together and see your friends from the community,” she said.
Stephanie Hacke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.