ITALY — The Italy Police Department hosted its third annual National Night Out Tuesday in downtown Italy.

Special guests included Sally the Clown and McGruff the Crime Dog. Ellis County Sheriff Ray Stewart also made an appearance during the evening.

An Air Evac helicopter from Ennis Regional Medical Center landed behind the downtown area. Don Coker, Eddie Smith and Sherry Shannon, crew members, provided tours for interested sightseers.

Others on hand included an American Red Cross truck with information about how they help during disasters.

Jenny Vidrine, a State Farm agent, provided kids with photo and identification cards.

Italy Historical Society members Randy Muirhead and Sandra Saxon provided participants with homemade ice cream.

Members of the Mount Gilead Baptist Church in Italy provided hot dogs.

The Italy Lions Club hosted games and prizes for children.

A representative from Brinks Security was on hand to provide information for homeowners.

Members of the Italy Chamber of Commerce sold Gladiators T-shirts and sweatshirts.

Bernyce Crownover had a booth with information regarding the Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center.

Several police officers presented various safety tips throughout the evening, including telling children about school bus safety, bike safety, general school safety and school zones.

This is the 24th annual National Night Out, a crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participate in, local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.