National Night Out in the Twin Cities

On August 5th, residents all across Minnesota will gather together in their respective communities to participate in this year's National Night Out.  At this national-but-local event, people all across the nation will be doing the same thing within their own communities.  National Night Out provides (NNO) an excellent opportunity for citizens to meet and greet with their neighbors, with the hopes of developing more close-knit communities.  It’s also a night when residents can cultivate relationships with the local law enforcement officials which keep their neighborhoods safe.  Twin Cities communities will be no different, as National Night Out festivities will be occurring throughout the metro area.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the first National Night Out.  The events are not only meant to introduce the law enforcement and safety officers to the individuals within community, but they’re also indented to elevate crime and drug prevention awareness within the public.  The hope is that these events will create and strengthen neighborhood unity, enhance collaboration between police and citizens, and generate involvement in local anticrime programs.  Furthermore, and probably most importantly, taking part in these events sends a serious message to criminals that our communities are organized and ready to fight for neighborhood safety.

There is a huge following of National Night Out in Minnesota.  I wasn’t quite aware of just how involved the state was until I started doing a little digging around.  From front porch vigils to blocks parties, the state of Minnesota has one of the highest involvement rates in the nation.  Last year, Minnesota tied with Texas for having the most participants state-wide.  Also in 2007, Minneapolis was ranked at the top for resident participation among cities with a population of 300,000.  There were 1,117 officially recognized National Night Out parties in streets, parks, yards and homes in Minneapolis with more than 62,000 people taking part. In a few other categories, several Minnesota cities and counties have won various awards for their involvement in NNO events.

If you want to learn more about NNO and National Association of Town Watch, the organization which first introduced it, you can check out the website here.  The history of NNO and NATW are not the main point of why I’m writing though.

If you’re planning on closing off a street in celebration of National Night Out, you must have your application turned in by Thursday.  Originally the deadline was today, but it was pushed back two days.  Party organizers that register their event with the city will be eligible to win door prizes donated by Minneapolis businesses. Those who register their party with Minneapolis can also request vouchers for discounted Minnesota Twins tickets and free passes to Mystery Park at Nickelodeon Universe at the Mall of America, child safety cards, name tags and door hangers.

If you hadn’t thought of having a street party before and it sounds like something you’d like to do with your neighborhood, contact the City of Minneapolis.  If you want to attend an event, find out if there is one near you!  But that doesn’t mean you can’t hold small gatherings to promote neighborhood bonding and strengthen community spirit yourself.  A NNO party can be as simple as neighbors gathering for a picnic.  As long as neighbors are encouraged to meet, converse, and watch out for one another, the evening’s intention has been fulfilled.

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