Have some fun at 1st Fridays on the Lawn

Event also marks National Night Out celebration

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Enjoy some music and fun downtown on Aug. 3 when the city of Wilson hosts National Night Out in combination with 1st Fridays on the Lawn.

The combined event, from 6 to 9 p.m., will be held on the Wilson County Library lawn in downtown Wilson, 249 Nash St. The new rain location is Bill’s Convention Center, 3007 Downing St.

“National Night Out is a nationwide event that focuses on community engagement with local law enforcement,” said Renee Smith, human relations director. “Typically it is held the first Tuesday in August, but we combine efforts with the city and all area law enforcement and emergency agencies to create one large celebration on Friday.”

Target is the national corporate sponsor for this event, and the local store will participate with activities on the lawn. There will be a booth with volunteers and activities for children.

National Night Out is an annual event designed to strengthen the communities by encouraging neighborhoods to engage in stronger relationships with each other and with their local law enforcement partners. The goal is to heighten crime-prevention awareness, build support and participation in local anti-crime programs.

“This is a community-building event that promotes partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer,” said Capt. Kendra Howell of the Wilson Police Department. “National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community.”

The Human Relations Commission is encouraging people to take food donations for the Wilson Police Department’s food pantry. Police officers access this pantry during emergency situations, late nights and over the weekend when other sources are not available. The pantry is low on peanut butter, jelly and canned meats. However, any donations of nonperishable foods will be accepted during the event.


It is international music night for the free concert series. Performing on stage will be the Marcel Portilla band. With members hailing from Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and the United States, the band comes with a mix of Latin, pop, rock, blues, reggae and tropical fusion.

They play a blend of timeless classic covers with both dance and club mana, Santana, Juanes, Celia Cruz, Cuco Valoy, Guayacan, Pete Rodriguez, Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, La Makina and the Gipsy Kings mixed with their own original songs.

During the band’s intermission, around 7 p.m., the focus will shift to National Night Out. Children will be paired with uniformed emergency personnel and compete in friendly competitions such as tug of war and a water balloon toss.

To beat the heat, the Wilson Youth Council will host a free waterslide for older kids and a bounce house for young children. The city of Wilson Water Department will set up a water mister for all in attendance to walk through for a quick cool-down.

The lawn will be filled with displays from emergency services and community nonprofits.

Along Jackson Street, beside the library lawn, there will be a variety of food vendors.

The concert will be held rain or shine. In case of inclement weather, this particular concert will move indoors to Bill’s Convention Center. This new location will allow both the band and all the National Night Out activities to continue indoors. The schedule will remain the same with the doors opening at 5 p.m. and the music starting at 6 p.m.

1st Fridays on the Lawn is a family-friendly event. Admission is free. All concerts are alcohol-free. Pets are preferred to be left at home as the music and large crowd can be overwhelming for even the friendliest pet. Families are encouraged to take lawn chairs, a blanket and even a picnic from home.

The next 1st Fridays on the Lawn concert will be Sept. 7 with the rock band The Conspiracy. To learn more about the concerts, activities, bands and the Human Relations Commission search for “1st Fridays on the Lawn” on the city of Wilson’s website (WilsonNC.org) or contact the human relations office by calling 252-399-2308.