National Night Out 2016

SDCI board member Joe Kelly helps a youngster control faux "flames" 
What a great turnout we had Tuesday night at Owings Mills New Town Community Association’s National Night Out event. The place was jumping. Owings Mills police estimated that approximately 1,200 neighborhood residents attended. Last year there were about 900 people, so this year’s attendance was quite an uptick.

SDCI board president Laura Van Scoyoc and vice president Lynell Tobler were assisted by fellow board members Joe Kelly and Mark Jennys – and they needed all the help they could get! It seemed like every household in the New Town community came out to sample food from area restaurants, dance to music and watch Karate, Zumba and other demonstrations in booths spread out over a large grassy area known to the New Town neighborhood as “Central Park”.

Having Joe and Mark there to assist was truly invaluable, as they not only helped unload and set up supplies from Laura and Lynell’s vehicles and from the Scales & Tales animal van, but also made a perfect team helping children don Nomex jackets, firefighting helmets and heavy (really heavy) water-bladder backpacks while encouraging the little ones (and a few adults!) to take aim with their water nozzles at plastic cups set atop hazard cones in front of our “flame board”. Children were lined up all evening to participate in SDCI’s “controlled burn” activity, and having Mark and Joe there to handle all that action left Laura and Lynell free to spread the word to the crowd of parents and other onlookers about the dangers of invasive vegetation.

The New Town community is SDCI’s single most important target audience, as so many of their homes butt up against (or are very near) Soldiers Delight property. These are the folks who use our trails but may not know about the extreme fragility of the ecosystem. Allowing Laura and Lynell to devote all their time to imparting SDCI’s message to this important audience was crucial, and we couldn’t be more appreciative of the help provided by Mark and Joe.

Patapsco Valley State Park naturalists Jenna Krebs and Bryan Feylock brought a wonderful Scales & Tales display which was set up right next to the SDCI table. Besides Bryan’s magnificent great horned owl, Jenna displayed a seven-and-a-half foot black rat snake, an eastern screech owl, a sparrow hawk, a black vulture, an eastern box turtle and a number of furry pelts to delight the attendees. That’s a record number of animals! Their display was swamped for the entire event, providing Laura and Lynell with even more opportunity for outreach. Several New Town board members approached Lynell at the close of the event to tell her what a huge hit the animals were.

The Friends group collected a few dollars in a cute “owl” donation receptacle set up on the SDCI table. But way more important than money was the impact our group had last night as we imparted our critically important message to the folks who stand to have the most lasting influence on the serpentine by virtue of their symbiotic relationship to it. These are the neighbors who touch Soldiers Delight every day, whether by hiking on its trails or by landscaping their yards. Thanks to Joe and Mark and Jenna and Bryan, Laura and Lynell were able to reach an awful lot of people Tuesday night. The event was a roaring success.

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