Niagara Gazette — The annual Niagara Falls Block Club Council Crime Night Out event is held in an inner city neighborhood where residents meet and greet various branches of local law enforcement and government and have the opportunity to learn about various services available in our community along with some fun things for children as well.
This year in the Highland-Centre Avenue area we were fortunate to have the Niagara Falls Housing Authority as a partner as they literally let us take over their corner resource center building for the evening. When my contact Angela Smith said the “building is yours,” I found out she meant it. We were able to use the space inside for the Masonic Lodge Safety ID Program where they interviewed the neighbors and produced laminated identification cards which included photos and fingerprints free of charge.
While waiting their turn for their ID, they encountered Sharon Mentkowski of the Buffalo office of the FBI who was set up in the hallway with a life size cutout depicting a “FBI Wanted” poster. The kids had fun sitting behind the hole and having their cell phone photo taken. This was not the usual “Wanted” poster you sometimes see in the post office as it pertained to drug free kids, “still growing, with clear eyes and ‘criminal record? — No Way’.” Fingerprints were lined up along the bottom and they were described as someone you could “approach anytime.”
Across the street in the park area the bounce house was a big hit as usual. The Kiwanis Club of Niagara Falls provided funding for the unit and their volunteers, Laurie and Candace kept things orderly. Laurie told me later that it was fun for her as the kids were precious. The little ones asked “can you lift me in?” and some wanted a hug. Many were wearing the t-shirts provided by the sheriff’s office with funds from the Niagara County Drug Task Force. Couldn’t be put to a better use I say. Back for his yearly engagement was Joe Russell, our roving magic act. He could be seen with a group of youngsters around him “making magic.” No matter how many times I watch his act I still do not know how he does those tricks.