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Scaled Down National Night Out Slated

POSTED July 24, 2012 10:44 p.m.

In years past the Oakdale community has enjoyed a robust National Night Out event with multiple locations throughout the city with police demonstrations, fun, food, and raffle prizes but the budget crunch has put a damper on this popular annual celebration.

As of press time, there were three known National Night Out locations, one at Burchell Hill, another at the River Paradise Mobile Home Park, and another on Atlas Court scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

According to coordinators, donations are way down from last year and the police department simply cannot afford to fund this event without the help of the community.

Local business Fastenal donated a palette of water for the local events.

Each location is in charge of their own gathering and what they plan to offer. The Atlas Court area location will feature a potluck for residents, a bounce house and a dunk tank. Stanislaus County Sheriff K9 department will put on a demonstration immediately following dinner.

Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins and members of his department are planning to make appearances at the various locations.

National Night Out, ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime,’ was introduced in 1984. The program was the brainchild of NATW (National Association of Town Watch) Executive Director Matt A. Peskin.

In an effort to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anticrime efforts, Peskin felt that a high-profile, high-impact type of crime prevention event was needed nationally. At that time, he noted that in a typical ‘crime watch community,’ only 5 to 7 percent of the residents were participating actively. Due to the growth and success of these programs, he felt this percentage was too low. Subsequently, he proposed a national program which would be coordinated by local crime prevention agencies and organizations - but that would involve entire communities at one time. The first National Night Out was introduced early in 1984 - with the event culminating on the first Tuesday in August.

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 28th Annual National Night Out last August involved 37.1 million people in 15,325 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. Over 15,300 communities are expected to take part this year. (Texas will celebrate on Oct. 2.) For more information, visit www.nationalnightout.org.

While the traditional ‘lights on’ and front porch vigils remain a part of NNO, activities have expanded considerably over the years to include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.

Peskin said, “It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and neighborhood camaraderie.

“While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year. It is a night to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes - and to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”

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