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20131004 PALMHURST National-Night-Out 0041PALMHURST—Melanie Turrubiates sat in the back of a Mission police tactical unit, trying out equipment Tuesday night.

“This helmet’s heavy,” the 12-year-old called out.

“I’m tipping over,” Jaydy Barbosa, 11, chimed in while holding a protective shield emblazoned with SWAT in big white letters.

Turrubiates later claimed the tactical unit as her favorite part of the second annual National Night Out hosted by the city of Palmhurst.

Law enforcement agencies from across the Valley participated in the event, engaging local residents with chances to see equipment up close and personal, free food and games for children.

Cianna Villapando, a 7-year-old girl from Palmhurst, took the stage to sing Katy Perry’s “Roar” as parents with toddlers meandered through the booths under a tent modeled after the Texas flag. Palmhurst PD gave out school supplies and officers at booths from Mission Police Department went over car seat regulations and U.S. Border Patrol agents gave out swag and information on the agency’s work.

“This was bigger than last year,” Palmhurst Police Chief Michael Vela declared. “Parking was full. They kept telling us great job.”

The city doesn’t track the number of attendees, but Vela said last year 1,000 bags of school supplies went quickly.

He hoped local residents would learn not to fear law enforcement through the outreach.

Barbosa said she had a good time and she was better prepared for a fire after going through the smokehouse brought in by the Mission Fire Department. It also was her favorite part of the event.

Capt. Ruben Gutierrez, Mission’s assistant fire marshal, led groups of children through the small trailer, teaching them about fire safety. When he deemed them ready, Gutierrez turned off the lights and filled a small room with smoke. The children had to escape through a window.

Gutierrez said the smokehouse is a great way to teach children how to react in an emergency.

“It’s kind of scary because you couldn’t really see,” said Barbosa.

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