By Deborah Bailey
AFRO Contributing Editor
New Carrollton, Md., a Prince George’s County community, hosted its 40th National Night Out celebration recently with special guests from the top of Maryland’s state government.
Gov. Wes Moore, first lady Dawn Moore and Attorney General Anthony Brown made surprise appearances at the mid-county community’s Beckett Field, enhancing a local tradition already firmly embedded within and embraced by the small suburban jurisdiction a few miles away from downtown Washington, D.C.
“When we talk about this idea of National Night Out, this idea of public safety, the No. 1 priority for this moment is that everyone in each community can grow up in safety in our own homes and in our own skin,” Moore told the audience under a bright evening sky.
Several hundred people gathered onto Beckett Field, enjoying a waterslide, scores of games, a community antique car show and competition amid representatives from more than 25 federal, state and local law enforcement organizations, community causes and businesses.
Many residents and neighbors have been going to Beckett Field for New Carrollton’s National Night Out for years. Now in its 40th year, it is one of the longest running celebrations of its kind in the nation.
Rita LaPrince from neighboring Greenbelt, Md., has attended the New Carrollton celebration for the past three years and said she will keep coming back.
“This gives the kids something positive to do and gives them an outlet to be kids like they should be. It also allows the police to interact with the kids,” LaPrince said, while watching her children enjoy one of the event’s amusement rides.
New Carrollton is a family-oriented, small-town community where neighbors know each other. The small city is divided in half by State Route 450, Annapolis Road, and features a mix of winding neighborhoods, flowerbeds and wooded spaces on one side and rows of large apartment complexes on the other side.
The community’s violent crime rate is higher than locations of its size nationwide, but property crime is the largest challenge for city residents, according to Neighborhood Scout, a data analytics site with national data on community demographics.
A year ago, Prince George’s County officials lamented the deadliest summer on record as violent shootings, homicides and carjackings spiked, causing Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks to call in early September for a controversial youth curfew that was later extended until the end of 2022.
Mayor Katrina Dodo, recently elected in May, said she is committed to bringing the community together through events like National Night Out. Dodo recently reinstated the city’s veteran police chief, David Rice, after he was fired by former Mayor Phelecia Nembhard.
“We want this to be the safest place in the state,” Dodo said.
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