Ice Cream, Fire Trucks and Bluegrass

Ice Cream, Fire Trucks and Bluegrass

Residents gather for National Night Out at Mount Vernon Park on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Xavier Scheeler the tattoo artist puts a tattoo on Harper Hanks, age 6, enjoying National Night Out at Mount Vernon Park.

Xavier Scheeler the tattoo artist puts a tattoo on Harper Hanks, age 6, enjoying National Night Out at Mount Vernon Park.

The residents of Mount Vernon Park and Hollin Hall Villages combined efforts this year for a National Night Out celebration that featured a country band, fishing, ice cream and the fire trucks which were big draws as they pulled into the parking lot.

Captain Andrew Snell arrived in one of the trucks. “We’re building trust with our community,” he said as the families gathered around the trucks and the children climbed aboard. “It’s great that they get to see our first responders,” he added.

Ryan Battle, the vice president of Hollin Hall Villages civic group agreed. He was one of the residents instrumental in pulling it all together. “It’s a good opportunity for the residents to meet the police and firemen,” Battle said.

“Each year it kind of expands,” said Mary Godbout, one of the other organizers and a member of the Mount Vernon Park Association board of directors. It’s their sixth year doing it together with Hollin Hall Villages.

What’s a country band without a fiddle?  


At Mount Vernon Park, there is room to expand in this privately owned facility that got its start in 1954 when the land was donated by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church. It now has three swimming pools, a pond, a pavilion and lots of room for the families to set up barbecues and enjoy the evening. For the National Night Out event, a bluegrass band called the Trenton Porch Pirates played at the pavilion, two food trucks were set up by the front gate, people were fishing in the pond and Xavier Scheeler was manning the tattoo table.

Scheeler was in his eighth year at the event doing the removable tattoos, and his mother was out at another event with her tattoo kit, so it’s a family thing. “Usually most popular is the princess, followed by the dolphin,” he said.

NNO 2023

National Night Out began in 1984 when Matt Peskin, founder and executive director of National Association of Town Watch, introduced it in Philadelphia as a way to break down the boundaries between law enforcement and the community. Peskin started promoting the sense of community with a newsletter, and as he met with community leaders, the first gathering was born to replace the newsletter. The first annual National Night Out involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states.

It was designated as an annual neighborhood-based crime and drug prevention event and an opportunity to show neighborhood spirit and strengthen partnerships with local police. It demonstrates neighborhood commitment to fight crime and is observed in thousands of communities in all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world. In Virginia, there are nearly 150 cities and towns participating. 

Sam and Brandon Zerante hear all about the fire nozzle at National Night Out at Mount Vernon Park.