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National Night Out set for Aug. 2

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By April Wright, Reporter

Each year, National Night Out gets bigger and better, with more activities, more event-goers and more volunteers.
This year, National Night Out, a free community event, will be held Aug. 2 from 6-9 p.m. in downtown Galax, featuring dozens of kids activities, a mechanical bull, pony rides and bounce houses. The Galax Volunteer Fire Department will bring their fire trucks to give ladder rides.
The Galax High School stomp group will perform from 6-7 p.m., and a DJ will provide the entertainment for the rest of the night.
Over 40 organizations and exhibitors will be present to provide activities and giveaways.
The Galax Police Department and the Crime Prevention Coalition, sponsors of the event, are partnering with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive from 3-7 p.m.  
Dozens of prizes will be given away, such as cabin stays, gift certificates and theme park tickets.
“We want to give families a positive experience,” said Galax Police Sgt. Chris Brown, who organizes the event. “Galax is a melting pot and this brings families, friends and neighbors together for a good time. It’s the police department’s way of giving back.”
Last year, about 65 volunteers helped to put on the big event. This year, nearly 100 people have signed on to help out.
“Four women had planned a trip to Myrtle Beach last year, but when they found out that National Night Out was happening at the same time, they cancelled their trip to help out,” said Brown.
This marks this sixth National Night Out event in downtown. When the first event was held in Felts park, about 300 attended.
More than 4,000 people attended last year, and more are expected this year.
“Last year, we didn’t think we could grow anymore,” said Brown. “But we’re looking for more people to be there this year, too. Attendance has doubled each year due to the popularity of the event.”
Each year, volunteers prepare more than 2,000 hotdogs. This time, 3,000 hotdogs have been ordered.
Galax’s National Night Out ranked 9th in the nation among cities of similar population, and for pulling off one of the best events. When it started, it placed 23rd out of 30-plus events in the country.
“And we’re still striving for first place,” said Brown.
The purpose is to encourage the public to help prevent crime, bring neighbors together and build relationships between law enforcement and citizens.
And over the past few years, Brown said, he has seen its positive impact.