Archived Story

Participate in National Night Out

Published 9:27pm Monday, June 24, 2013

This will be my seventh August working at the Suffolk News-Herald, and that means it will be my seventh August covering a wonderful community event called National Night Out.

As the name suggests, it’s an event that happens nationwide on the same night. But at its heart, National Night Out is a community event. It encourages folks to lock their doors, turn their exterior lights on, and spend the evening outside getting to know their neighbors.

Initially founded in 1984, when about 400 communities in 23 states participated, the event has grown to include about 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

At its roots, National Night Out was meant to be a night when neighbors would just sit on their front porches to deter crime and send the message that the neighborhood has its eyes on would-be criminals.

Some celebrations in Suffolk — the one in Olde Towne on Bank Street comes to mind — are still like that. They consist of a dozen or so neighbors just sitting around outside and having a cookout.

But others have turned into the big party that National Night Out is now famous for. Locations in Suffolk like Bethlehem Ruritan Club bring together dozens of individual communities and have hundreds of participants both young and old in a variety of activities like kids’ bounce houses, carnival-style games and parades.

Whatever the size of the celebration, the motivation is the same. National Night Out is a great community event in which I would encourage everyone in Suffolk to participate, whether you help organize your neighborhood’s event or just show up that night for a hot dog.

If you do participate in National Night Out, you’ll get the chance to meet public safety officials and elected officials who make caravan tours to visit registered communities. National Night Out is all about police-community partnerships, so after you get to know your neighbors, you can meet some local law enforcement officers and learn how you and your neighbors can help them keep your streets safer. The police can’t be everywhere at all times, but an informed and active community can help accomplish safe streets.

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