NEWMARKET — In what Lt. Rick Beaudet called “overwhelming support from the community,” Newmarket celebrated its first-ever Newmarket Night Out on Saturday, Aug. 12. The event provided an opportunity for residents to meet their local firefighters and police officers, as well as the chance to support efforts by the Newmarket Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention to fight the opioid epidemic.
With an estimated attendance of 300 to 400, the Newmarket Recreation Department played host to the event sporting numerous activities, performances and local food. Residents enjoyed the warm summer evening highlighting the importance of community interaction.
“I got the sense that people liked the ability to see police dressed down and be approachable,” Beaudet said. “That speaks volumes about out community that there were so many families there with their kids. It was a very wholesome, natural way to get what we wanted to achieve: to be more approachable and let people see us in that element.”
Beaudet said he was thrilled with the event’s turnout. “You plan events and you don’t know whose going to show up, but it was so nice to see the overwhelming support of the community.”
The N-ASAP group was crucial in organizing the event, and Police Chief Kyle True made sure to tout the community’s success in cutting opioid-related overdoses in half each year since 2015.
In 2015, Newmarket saw 45 overdoses and four deaths and 2016 had 22 overdoses and two deaths. So far in 2017, there have been seven overdoses and one death.
“This event is to celebrate the success that this community has had over the past three years in decreasing the amount of opiate-related overdoses and deaths that we’ve had,” True said at the event. “I want to cut it in half another 50 percent this year until we keep cutting it in half until we don’t have to deal with this problem anymore.”
True asked for a round of applause for those in short-term and long-term recovery. “We admire you,” he said.
The event also had representatives from support groups and recovery centers around the Seacoast.
“With the news circulating right now about the opioid problem inundating New Hampshire, any chance we have to talk about it in any capacity has the ability to heal a community,” Beaudet said. “The fact that we as a community are owning it, it is a problem, it is in our town. It’s about tearing down the walls so we can heal.”
On Saturday evening, greeting visitors with its ladder towering high above the crowd was Engine 2 and its crew. Youngsters were able to sit in the driver’s seat, don helmets, explore the cab and ask emergency crew personnel questions.
Next door were police motorcycles giving kids and adults the chance to saddle up.
Many local youth organizations, such as SALT, Youth 2 Youth, and Newmarket National Honor Society, ran activities and games for all ages. Perhaps a highlight of the evening, a helicopter hovered over the baseball field and dropped hundreds of golf balls, each representing a raffle ticket sold. The Hall family of Newmarket won more than $900 when their golf ball landed in the designated hole, winning the 50/50 jackpot.
Food vendors ran the gamut offering their specialties. Among them was Newmarket’s newest eatery, the Horseshoe Café by Sarah Kozuma who does the baking and her husband Nori who said he is in charge of the coffee roasting.
Also on hand was Jon Kiper of Jonny Boston’s International. Kiper was able to raise the money earlier this year to buy the building housing his restaurant and able to keep his business in town.
Other eateries included Riverworks, the Oak House, Panzanella’s, Newmarket Creperie, Jeremy’s, the Joinery, Newberry Fields Market, Kume, Basil Thai, La Catina and KONA Ice King.
Demonstrating their skills before an enthusiastic audience was Extreme Air of New Hampshire, based in Newmarket, whose members recently won honors in the 2017 USA Jump Rope National Championships in Orlando followed by the Grand Nationals.
The Rye Airfield Skate & Bike Park offered kids a chance to learn the basics of skateboarding. After some false starts and a couple falls, Annaleigha Dotson and Danica Guidice seemed to be getting the hang of it.
“The biggest joy I got out of this whole event was most of the assets used were all Newmarket involved,” Beaudet said. He called it a “really organic Newmarket Night Out.”