Are you afraid of the dark?
If so, you won’t be after Aug. 7. That night, Westside residents of all ages will come together to celebrate their neighborhoods.
National Night Out (NNO), is an event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored locally by the Columbus Division of Police. It takes place one night in August each year across the United States.
Now in its 24th year, NNO is used as a tool for crime and drug prevention by reinforcing the relationships between citizens and police officers.
Residential associations and blockwatches organize the activities and are joined by businesses, elected officials, law enforcement and fire departments.
During National Night Out, residents are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors, police and neighborhood officials. Several neighborhoods throughout the area will be hosting a variety of NNO events such as block parties, cookouts, visits from police, contests, flashlight walks, youth activities and anti-crime rallies.
The object is to bring all the residents of a neighborhood out at once and let them know that there is nothing to be afraid of. This promotes community spirit and at the same time, gives everyone an chance to better understand who, and what, is around them.
NNO also serves to send a message to would-be criminals that a neighborhood is organized and is prepared to fight back.
One of the biggest National Night Out celebrations on the Westside takes place in Franklin Township and is put on by the Westbrook-Eastbrook Neighborhood Association.
The Westbrook-Eastbrook Neighborhood Association consists of 12 members who work together to pull off this yearly event. According Juanita Kaufman, one of the organizers, their event attracts nearly 300 people each year.
Kaufman says that this year’s event can be expected to be as big as ever. It will take place at Finland Elementary School, 1835 Finland Ave., and will have activities meant to attract both children and adults.
Expected events includes games, line dancing, an antique car show, raffles, an auction, and give-away tables. The night will be kicked off with a bicycle parade, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
“We’ve got a lot of things donated from businesses around town,” said Kaufman. The give-aways for the evening will include several items that were donated from local business, including free pizzas, dinners at restaurants and groceries.
“Everyone will get something,” Kaufman added.
Kaufman feels that National Night Out is a valuable tool to teach children to stay away from drugs and alcohol.
“It makes people aware of what’s going on and that we are watching.” she added.
Last year, NNO had over 10,000 communities participating from across the nation, totaling over 34 million participants, according to their Web sites.
Other NNO activities happening on the Westside include:
Ogden Avenue Block Watch
Ogden Avenue Block Watch will host a National Night Out Neighborhood Festival from 5:30-9 p.m. in an effort to give crime a going away party.
The block watch will partner with the Columbus Division of Police and the Target Corporation for the evening long event that promotes crime prevention. The event will be located on S. Ogden Avenue just north of W. Mound Street.
In addition to activities sponsored by the police, the block watch will encourage residents to participate in a “Get to Know Your Neighbor” game to promote neighborhood unity.
Those participating in this game will be eligible for prizes.
Planned activities for this year’s event include:
•Free grilled food items
•An animal presentation by the Columbus Zoo
•Music provided by a local radio station
•Columbus Division of Fire will display a ladder truck
•The Ohio Heat All-Stars will preform
•Columbus Division of Police will attend with a Mounted Horse Unit
•Games, face painting and karaoke
•Science demonstrations about space by COSI
Wayne Avenue Blockwatch
The Wayne Avenue Blockwatch invites residents, along with members of other local
blockwatch groups, to help them celebrate their 12th year for National Night Out.
They ask that everyone bring a covered dish and lawn chair – hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided.
This event will begin at 6:30 p.m. Scheduled activities include modern and antique fire trucks, a safe house, adult door prizes, live music and more surprises.
This event attracted over 200 people last year and grows bigger each year.
For more information about events in your community, contact your Community Liaison Officer or call 645-4610.