Howard's National Night Out parties unite neighbors, first responders

Maple Lawn residents Jerel and Tonya Registre with their son, Mark, at Maple Lawn's National Night Out kickoff Tuesday night.
Maple Lawn residents Jerel and Tonya Registre with their son, Mark, at Maple Lawn's National Night Out kickoff Tuesday night. (Leah Brennan/BSMG)

Jerel Registre knew the people in front of a Howard County Fire and Rescue fire truck at Tuesday’s Fulton National Night Out kickoff on a first name basis — they had been at his house that morning.

The three firefighters had responded after the fire alarm system at the Registre’s Maple Lawn house unexpectedly went off, said Registre, a small business consultant.


He and his wife, Tonya Registre, brought their 2-year-old son, Mark to the event, which they thought was important to “generate some enthusiasm so he’s not nervous as he sees bright lights.”

“He’s already excited about seeing all the trucks and the helicopters today, but it mostly comes down to just coming out and checking it out,” Jerel Registre said, adding he had petted the police horses and checked out the helicopter that landed in the grass.

The Maple Lawn event — which signified the start of celebrations at more than 30 county neighborhoods — saw well over 100 attendees, including more than 40 uniformed officers from Howard County and state police, the sheriff’s office, Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, Maryland National Guard and county park rangers.

Howard County began participating in National Night Out in “the first few years,” wrote Sherry Llewellyn, a spokeswoman for county police in an email.

“We can be stronger as a community when we all work together, and this is what happens when you bring people together, we can make awesome things happen,” said Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman. “Our police officers, our firefighters, our sheriffs, everybody, are here for us but they can’t always be everywhere, so we need to work together as a community.”

Attractions included corn hole games, a dunk tank with Ofc. Travis Turner, police horses and a state police dog, Boomer, various police vehicles — including the helicopter — and food from one of the food trucks.

Turner said he’s been dunked at previous National Night Out events and the water was “colder than last year” in Ellicott City, but that he enjoys it.

“It’s important for the community, for everybody to get together and join throughout a county,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to get to know us. We’re really active in the community already, but it just gives another opportunity to meet more people and get out there and bring everybody together.”

The National Night Out program originated in Philadelphia, and was introduced in August 1984, according to its website. The first drew 2.5 million people across 400 communities in 23 states, and has grown to 38 million people in 16,000 communities.

Justin Knczynski, of Maple Lawn, who was waiting in line for his 8-year-old son Chase to get on the helicopter, emphasized the high quality of care law enforcement provides and low crime rate in Howard County.

“How could you ask for anything more from these people that risk their lives everyday for the citizens of Howard County?” he said.