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NNO kickoff a ‘success’

National Night Out 2010 got off to a great start this week.

More than 40 Suffolk residents were on hand in council chambers Thursday to find out more about the crime-fighting and community-building event, which is set for Aug. 3. Attendees were able to sign up their neighborhoods to be included on the official list of National Night Out communities.

“It was an overwhelming success, as over 40 citizens signed up their communities to participate in National Night Out this year,” said National Night Out coordinator Diana Klink. “National Night Out is an opportunity for citizens to get involved in our communities and to take our streets back.”

National Night Out encourages yearlong community partnerships between residents and law enforcement officers through one night of neighborhood fun. Many neighborhoods plan block parties, parades, cookouts and other activities.

Community organizer Donna Perry, though, said such events are not necessary to celebrate National Night Out.

“One person can celebrate National Night Out,” Perry said at the kickoff event. “You don’t need to plan a block party or a huge extravaganza.”

National Night Out has grown in Suffolk from the first time it was celebrated here, Perry said. The first year, six neighborhoods participated, and one motorcade of committee members and law enforcement officers made stops at all six. In 2009, a total of eight motorcades were needed to cover the entire city. Suffolk has taken first place in its population category nationwide the last two years in a row.

“Suffolk continues to grow at a rapid rate, but crime continues to grow as well,” Perry said. “National Night Out is making a statement.”

Debra March attended the kickoff event to register her Woodlake neighborhood. Last year, about 150 people celebrate National Night Out in her community with a cookout and a tug-of-war.

“Everybody used to look out for our neighbors,” March said. “We need to do that more often.”

Klink stressed the importance of participating in anti-crime activities such as National Night Out.

“The last defense against crime is an involved community,” she said.

For more information on Suffolk’s National Night Out, call 514-4104 or visit www.suffolknno.org.