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National Night Out: A step toward neighborhood crime prevention
Residents in neighborhoods across the country gathered Tuesday as they participated in National Night Out.
It was a night for neighbors to meet, reacquaint themselves and discuss ways to keep their neighborhood safe alongside police and firefighters.
"I think it's important to get people together," Des Moines resident Lori Parker said. Parker hosted her first National Night Out block party this year. "So many move from far away. We can make one big family."
Nadya Curtis organized a National Night Out event at her house in the Redondo area for the second time. Her entire cul-de-sac gathered for Ron Gee's famous ribs along with other food the neighbors brought.
"Nadya made us!" both Lynnette Hoosier and Mary Siracuse said, laughing about why they came.
"We enjoy it so much," Siracuse said. "And we get to meet firemen and policemen, which is really nice."
"It brings the neighbors together, and (we) get to know the firefighters and policemen who patrol and respond to our needs," Curtis added.
Kids got an opportunity to climb on fire trucks and gather sticker badges from both firefighters and police officers, who used the opportunity to trade jokes, much to the delight of teenagers. ("What do policemen and firemen both have in common? They both want to be firemen.")
According to National Night Out's website the annual event started in 1984. The National Association of Town Watch started the program as a way to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts. That first year, 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out. Nationwide, 2.5 million Americans took part in 1984. The seed had been planted. In subsequent years, participation has grown steadily. The 26th annual National Night Out last August involved 36.7 million people in 14,625 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide.
This year, more 15,000 communities were expected to participate.