DANVILLE —The 50th year for Friendly Town will have to wait.

“Unfortunately yes, we are not going to have it this year,” according to Josh Long, school resource officer with the Danville Police Department.

With everything going on with COVID-19, they felt it best that it was canceled this year.

“As far as I know we will open back up next year,” he said.

Police Chief Chris Yates said the safety program for children was to celebrate its 50th year this year.

“It’s a really good education program,” he said, adding that it was really important to former Public Safety Director Larry Thomason.

The community can celebrate 50 years of Friendly Town next year, Yates said.

Friendly Town, the summer program consisting of a building with a classroom and miniature city of buildings, traffic lights, railroad crossing and roadways for children to learn pedestrian and bicycle safety at Lincoln Park, started in 1970.

Individuals, businesses and organizations have lent a hand through the years with monetary and labor resources to help with Friendly Town’s appearance and operations.

More than 100 students have participated annually in the summer in the countywide program.

Children learn about safety from police officers, firefighters, ambulance personnel and others. Areas of instruction include personal, bicycle, pedestrian and fire safety.

Upon completion, each student receives a certificate. The program is open to any child who has completed kindergarten and not yet started fourth grade. During the summer months, school resource officers are assigned to conduct the classes at Friendly Town.

Yates said the police department is getting ready for summer patrols.

With the coronavirus impacting the police department, “it’s been challenging, but we’ve adapted and evolved,” Yates said.

Officers are wearing masks and taking precautions when they can, he said.

The department has grant money for additional supplemental patrols.

He said they were more in a building process last summer, as Yates became acting police chief in May 2019 and police chief in August 2019.

Now the department has extra resources with more officers.

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