The Ellis County Courthouse in downtown Waxahachie was the place to be Tuesday night if you wanted free food, to get your face painted and to hear some live music by Elmo Blue.

This year’s National Night Out brought residents of all ages out to have fun, get to know each other and raise awareness about our armed forces and civil servants.

“National Night Out is to encourage people to get out of their homes and meet their neighbors,” City Manager Paul Stevens said. “We want people to learn a little bit about crime prevention, safety and to be able to feel safe in their own neighborhoods.”

The civil servants came out in full force to help with the town’s celebration.

“We have got a bunch of people here in downtown Waxahachie from our law enforcement, fire protection and other people who are just getting involved with helping our community be better,” Waxahachie police officer Wess Winn said. “We want to come together and celebrate that.”

Stevens said the event is fun and also helps residents learn about some of the services the city provides.

“I hope this is something that gives (residents) a little more sense of community,” Stevens said. “I also hope they feel good about where they live and that they learn about some of the services that are provided to them.”

It took a lot of work and a lot of help to get all of the preparations completed before the event began at 6:30 p.m.

“We had a lot of people’s help,” Winn said. “We began setting up until 5 p.m., so I had to depend on my volunteers a lot. We had 40 or 50 people out here helping.”

Stevens said several of the city’s workers were among the volunteers.

“A lot of our employees volunteered to help out and set up today,” Stevens said. “We had just about every department represented out here.”

All of the work was completed on time and several businesses from around town were among the participants with booths.

Organizations including the sheriff’s department, police department, the U.S. Secret Service, a canine unit, Wells Fargo Bank, the Army, Air Force, Marines, Carter Blood Center, MADD, juvenile services, the Salvation Army, Home Depot, Target, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, R.E.A.C.H., the Boys and Girls Club, City Credit Union, the chamber of commerce and Crime Stoppers all handed out pamphlets about their business and crime prevention information.

Other companies and organizations donated more than information.

Whether the businesses gave away ice cream like H-E-B, handed out food and coupons like Chick-Fil-A, quenched thirsts with water bottles like Citizens National Bank or let people play video games like the Army recruiters did, the goal of the evening was achieved.

“We are just giving away free stuff,” Winn said. “Our goal is to get people to get out in the neighborhood and be proactive against crime. If this night makes that happen, that is what we want.”

E-mail Billy at billy.wessels@waxahachiedailylight.com