Encouraging participation

Published 8:00 pm Saturday, August 30, 2014

By all accounts, Suffolk put on another great party earlier this month, during its Aug. 5 observance of National Night Out.

Thousands of people in communities all around the city gathered in a variety of different locations to play games, enjoy refreshments, listen to music and get to know their neighbors, all in support of the city’s concerted effort to fight back against crime.

Suffolk has made a sort of tradition of earning top national marks for its celebration. Among the thousands of communities celebrating National Night Out around the country each year, Suffolk consistently places among the top five in cities of its size.

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Part of the reason for the city’s consistently high ranking is the fact that Suffolk officials make a big deal of getting neighborhoods involved and then congratulating and thanking them for their hard work. Contingents of city officials make a point to visit each of the different celebrations each year, they appoint a committee of youth and adult volunteers to evaluate the different parties, and they distribute awards to those neighborhoods that are judged to have most completely embraced the spirit of National Night Out.

During a special ceremony on Tuesday, Suffolk officials recognized a few of the top participants in this year’s National Night Out. An event at Sentara Obici Hospital that included a number of surrounding communities, including Applewood Farms, Burnett’s Mill, Hillpoint Farms, River Bluff and the YMCA, attracted more than 3,000 people and earned the top award for combined communities.

West End Civic League, which judges noted had contests and a school supply giveaway, earned the highest honor for individual communities. The Rookie of the Year award went to Mansfield Farms Homeowners Association, and the Business of the Year award went to Target, which provided grants for several communities to have banners at their parties.

Folks all around Suffolk look forward each year to the coming of National Night Out. Ceremonies like the one Tuesday ensure that the excitement that fuels the celebrations continues to be promoted and encouraged throughout the year.