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July 25, 2006 > National Night Out- A community event

National Night Out- A community event

by Brenda Cavallaro

It's a warm summer evening and neighbors gather to mingle, talk and enjoy each other's company. Is this a scene from a Normal Rockwell painting or can this really take place in the 21st Century? Yes it can and does! Neighborhoods across the country are increasingly getting together for at least one night a year on National Night Out (NNO). Held this year on Aug. 1, this giant block party is now in its 23rd year. Introduced in early 1984, it is celebrated on the first Tuesday in August. This event designed as a crime and drug prevention program sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, and businesses throughout U.S. territories, Canada and military bases worldwide.

Last year's NNO campaign was wide-ranged and full of variety with over 24 million people participating. This year it is expected that 10,000 communities and 34 million people will participate North America.

The traditional display is to turn on outdoor lights and holding events and activities to welcome everybody into the spirit of NNO. Activities include: block parties, cookouts, parades, exhibits, flashlight walks, contests, visits from the police, city officials and youth programs and generally runs from 7 to 10 p.m.


In Fremont, this year's theme is entitled, "Celebrating Neighborhood Unity." Groups of city of Fremont elected officials, commissioners, and employees, including police and fire department staff, enjoy visiting NNO events to help strengthen the ties between residents and the city. Last year, Fremont had 121 parties, and every party received at least one visit. Fremont's events are from 7 to 9 p.m.

A tradition in the Fremont area is the Cabrillo-Centerville Neighborhood Network "Pre-party" at the Cabrillo Shopping Center on the corner of Thornton Avenue and Cabrillo Avenue from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. To kick off the evening, this energetic group is offering a free barbeque, giveaways for kids, a bounce house and savings coupons from local merchants. Festivities end in time for residents to attend their own block parties later on.

In Niles, the Niles Main Street Association is sponsoring a NNO party in the parking lot next to the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum and will have a dessert buffet and ice cream social. The film museum is expected to be open as well.

The Niles Merchants Association will have a hot dog barbeque at the train car on Main Street.

Another event will be held on the corner of F Street and Niles Boulevard by Mr. Mikey's Country Store from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. A retired firefighter will bring a fire truck altered with seat-buckle bench for people of all ages enjoy a ride around Niles and receive safety tips and a "stop, drop, and roll" presentation. Real fire hats, coats and boots will be on hand for people to try on.

For more information on Fremont's block parties, call Community Engagement Specialist Karen Blount at (510) 790-6689


Newark anticipates that 12 to 15 neighborhoods will be participating in NNO from 7 to 10 p.m. and will celebrate with neighborhood picnics potlucks, barbeques and youth activities. McGruff the Crime Dog, police, and fire department personnel will make neighborhood visits. For more information contact Lt. Donna Shearn at (510) 790-7277.

Union City:

According to police Sgt. Mark Quinvoy of Union City, they have contacted neighborhood watch programs, Community Service police and the COPPS program will visit neighborhoods with giveaways provided by Union City's Human Relations Board. All city administrative staff, police personal, the chief of police and city officials will visit not only neighborhood watch programs but all residents who are celebrating NNO can receive a visit. For more information call Sgt. Quinvoy at (510) 675-5224.


The Milpitas police department invites all "Citizens to party!" on Thursday, Aug. 3. Milpitas residents interested in hosting a NNO neighborhood party and having the police visit should contact Sgt. Max Nobida at the Milpitas Police Department's Community Relations Unit at (408) 586-2527. Over the past eight years, Milpitas citizens have used NNO as a tool to initiate local Neighborhood Watch groups and to get reacquainted with neighbors. Most gatherings are neighborhood potluck dinners or ice cream socials. Officers from the police department visit individual gatherings, meet with citizens, and distribute crime prevention information. Police stickers and police car tours are a favorite for the children attending the events. For more information or a list of event locations, contact Sgt. Nobida at (408) 586-2527.


On Tuesday, August 1, all homes in Hayward are urged to keep their outdoor lights on from 7 to 10 p.m. and to join their neighbors in events like neighborhood block parties. To hold a block party, please register before August 1 by calling (510) 885-1954.

Block parties will be held by block captains for those who want to attend and get to know each other while members of the police department and city officials will drop into parties throughout the city. For more information, contact Joline Mallory at (510) 885-1954, Lind Long at (510) 581-8000, or Janet Kassouf, Neighborhood Alert president at (510) 537-5868.

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