MILFORD — Milford’s fourth National Night Out on Tuesday focused on kids and local heroes as the community gathered for an evening of fun and heart-felt recognition.

The annual event is simply a good opportunity for friends and neighbors in the small town to catch up, senior officer Josh Hearn with the Milford Police Department said, “Just to try to get the community together.”

Proceeds from the night were set to go toward Milford’s volunteer fire department as attendees paid a small fee for concessions and the chance to drench some of the city’s finest as members of the police, fire and sheriff’s department took turns in the dunking booth.

“We made quite a lot of money with that last year,” Hearn said.

Other organizations, such as the Milford High School and Junior High cheerleaders, also sold food to raise funds. The cheerleading teams will use the money to buy spirit items.

“I think it’s great,” cheerleading sponsor Shea Norcross said of the event. “It gets everybody together.”

Children had a tough job deciding what they’d like to do best, whether taking a turn in the bounce house, dousing officers or riding a small train around the block.

Angela Montgomery said her two daughters’ favorite was the train.

“One’s 10 and one’s 6,” she said. “They’ve been talking about this all week.”

One attendee paid for all children 12 and younger to have a turn to try and soak Chief of Police Carlos Phoenix, with nearly all taking advantage of the opportunity. The event was a good way for kids to get to know and trust their local police officers, the attendee said.

Phoenix changed out of his drenched clothes and into uniform long enough to honor several local residents and receive his own award as the first ever Milford Citizen of the Year.

“It’s my job,” he said of his selection. “All I’m doing is what I get paid to do.”

The city council and the police and fire departments also honored former volunteer fireman David Culpepper, who in April rushed into a burning house to save his neighbor. He was presented with both a city proclamation and a Life Saver Award.

“Mr. Culpepper took it upon himself to kick in the door and bring the lady out,” Phoenix said.

Culpepper said he was simply meant to be at the right place at the right time, as an unexpected schedule change put him coming home at a late hour he would have normally been asleep.

“God put me there,” he said.

“I am real proud of him,” his wife, Sherri, said, “but he scared the daylights out of me.”

Hearn, one of the first responders to the fire, vividly remembers that night and said he suggested Culpepper be honored for his bravery, saying that citizen heroes deserve just as much honor as emergency workers.

“This is our job,” Hearn said. “What about citizens that don’t have any ties, don’t have any responsibility and do it?”

Overall, the night was a success, Phoenix said.

“It’s great. We got a great turnout,” he said. “This is one event I know we can get a big crowd — everybody comes out and has fun.”

Phoenix also gave credit to his wife for organizing the popular evening.

“If it wasn’t for Lisa Phoenix, she actually plans this, we wouldn’t have such a good event,” he said.

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