The relationships between area individuals and first responders will get stronger Tuesday evening, according to one official.

Estimated to draw about 500 attendees, the Crawford County National Night Out event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Alma Primary School, 1600 U.S. 64 East in Alma, said Pat Whorton, one of the event's organizers. The free, all-ages gathering will honor all police, fire and first responders and their supporters and will include hot dogs, snow cones, water, popcorn, bounce-arounds and more, she said.

"This is a county-wide event that we are proud to offer; this is the second year we've offered it as a county-wide event, and National Night Out has been in existence, on a national level, for 35 years," Whorton said. "The Alma Police Focus Group is the host, along with the City of Alma this year.

"Last year, we had this in Van Buren," she added. "We got together with Van Buren and realized that this is such a big project to put together, we should take turns hosting it. This year it will be in Alma."

The Crawford County National Night Out event also will include face painting, fingerprinting, games, hand-outs, advertisement-based booths from vendors and more, said Whorton, who also is a member of the Alma Police Focus Group.

"We're going to have local police from Mulberry, Van Buren, Mountainburg and Cedarville, as well as the Crawford County Sheriff's Department and all Arkansas State Police in our area are invited," she said. "And they will bring some of their equipment. There will be everything from police cars to fire engines, and the Forestry Department is bringing their equipment.

"Emergency management also is bringing in their equipment, so kids and families will have an opportunity to sit in fire trucks and climb through them," Whorton added. "People will get to experience equipment and machines that will be safe for them."

Several door prizes that have been collected from various businesses and individuals will be given away throughout the evening, and three canine-based businesses will be on hand and ready for families and individuals wishing to adopt a puppy, she said.

"Everything is free, which is great," Whorton said. "Thanks to the good heart of a lot of sponsors, the hot dogs, snow cones, popcorn and soft drinks will be free of charge."

The event was designed to foster relationships between families and first responders, with added focus on children, she said.

"The Crawford County National Night Out gives another way for parents and police officers to meet and to say 'thank you' for a job well done," Whorton said. "It's so important for our children to know our officers."

Alma resident Tara Jones also feels that the bond between community and first responders should remain sturdy.

"It's a special thing that people are putting this on to honor our heroes," she said. "We are so appreciative of all of our law enforcement officials and the others who help us and keep us safe."

Tonya Hubbard agreed.

"You always hear the quote, 'Everybody knows your business in a small town,'" said the Kibler resident. "Through the years, my sister and I have traveled to different cities with my mother — some big and a few small. There is nothing like a small town and really getting to know your neighbors and our local law enforcement representatives in a positive way."

Those wishing to obtain more information on the event can call (479) 632-6219 or visit the Crawford County National Night Out Facebook page and the National Night Out 2018 Facebook page for information.

"Many times, first experiences between children and police officers can sometimes be in a negative manner," Whorton said. "But by providing this event, we are able to provide situations where children can know the officers and first responders in a positive atmosphere and, sometimes. on a one-on-one basis. This fosters relationships throughout the year."