As the sun, and in one case a helicopter, sank over Celina’s neighborhoods, residents and first responders took to the streets.
Tuesday night marked Celina’s National Night, a locally celebrated iteration of the national campaign to connect residents with police and each other for safer neighborhoods. That night, block parties sprouted up across town, and in the case of the Sutton Fields neighborhood, the night also included a helicopter tour.
Celina Police Officers and Celina Fire Department personnel visited the parties to interact with residents and shake hands.
“We want people to go out, meet each other, get to know each other, and then interact with us, because it’s an opportunity to interact with the police when it’s not a stressful situation,” said the head of the Celina Police, John Cullison.
He said crime prevention comes when neighbors know each other.
“They are ready to call the police,” he said. “They look out for each other. And that’s the whole premise, is to bring the community together, to make sure they work together not only to solve crime, but more importantly to prevent crime. “
Resident Michelle Maple has lived in Celina’s Heritage neighborhood for about seven years, and has seen the neighborhood’s national festivities grow over time. She said this was probably the biggest year she’s seen and that the event had helped her meet people who had recently moved in.
“You feel connected as a community,” she said. “You don’t feel like you’re alone.
Resident Gina Overstreet said each neighborhood celebrates a little differently.
“It’s like our own little town here in this community,” she said. “So I really like this night.”
On Tuesday evening, Cullison welcomed residents to the City Celebration downtown, where families encountered farm animals, ate burgers and thrown axes while interacting with city officials. Several participants wore blue shirts to mark the event of the evening. On the back of the shirts, white lettering read “In Honor of KC and Brynlee”.
Retail Celina KC Robinson, 33, died on April 5 while off duty in a car crash in Whitesboro, Texas. His daughter Brynlee, 6, also died at the scene. Cullison said honoring them at the Tuesday night event is a “never forget” way of saying.
“Our memories will never be erased from those we love, and so whenever we have the chance, we love to bring them back to our family,” he said. “We make sure the family has the shirts and we make sure they know we haven’t forgotten them. Because KC might be gone and his daughter might be gone, but his wife and family are still here.