PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- National Night Out in South Philadelphia was more than just food and fun, but a chance to build relationships with first responders.
"So often the role of a first responder is to only come in, in moments of tension," said Seth Shapiro, COO of Goldenburg Group, who sponsored the event at the Snyder Shopping Plaza. "So here they get an opportunity to relax, that sort of 'let your hair down moment' creates relationships that benefit when there are emergencies."
"My daughter, for instance, she is afraid of cops," said Nikki Jones candidly to Action News. She says that's one of the reasons she came to tonight's event.
"To see that they're here to help, not to harm," Jones added.
That's the message at National Night Outs across the city and in the suburbs.
In Wynnewood, residents met Lower Merion's finest, where the first National Night Out took place 36 years ago.
And in Tacony, children and their parents were connected with area resources.
On the forefront of many minds: the increased homicide rate in the city.
"Unless we get control of the guns, we're always going to face this problem, we're always going to have this conversation," said Mayor Jim Kenney.
"Getting (my son) ready for school. I want him to know that when he sees a police officer, that he's safe," said Jones.
Lessons that start at events like this, where the youngest of residents can meet those who protect their blocks.
National Night Out: Law enforcement, communities come together across Delaware Valley