Bringing Back the Good Old Days at ‘National Night Out’

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Remember the days when neighbors hung out on front lawns together, held block parties, and shared meals? It’s a nice idea that for many might be a nostalgic concept or something you’ve seen in a quaint film but not necessarily a personal experience. Many lament the fall of neighborly contact and having each other’s backs. The automatic response to check in if you have not seen one another, bring soup if someone is sick, and cookies if new to the block.

Photo: Melissa Trevathan-Minnis

Still, others might prefer fewer personal encounters with their neighbors but appreciate the notion that a good neighbor looks out for you, reports suspicious activity around your home and picks up your mail while you are out of town. The rising trend of planned communities that include shared yard space and large front porches might further suggest a growing desire to awaken some of these trends that some might argue are disappearing from neighborhoods.

National Night Out, which occurred on October 4 this year, provides a means to bring back some of this neighborhood familiarity and provides an opportunity to get to know one’s neighbors. While the comradery might be a consequence of these efforts, reports that “National Night Out is designed to:

  1. Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness
  2. Generate support and participation in crime efforts
  3. Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community relations
  4. Let criminals know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back”

Photo: Melissa Trevathan-Minnis

The website further encourages residents to, “turn on their porch lights, lock their doors and spend the evening outside with their neighbors, police officers, firefighters and EMS paramedics. Events such as cookouts, block parties, and neighborhood walks will all occur simultaneously throughout the city and nationwide.”

Police officers and fire fighters typically stop by and greet neighbors and answer any questions. The children often enjoy taking a closer look at police and fire trucks and having a chance to ask questions as well.

Photo: Melissa Trevathan-Minnis

The “ABC Streets”, a neighborhood in southwest Austin, hosted another successful year of National Night Out. Flyers were passed out door-to-door and neighbors contributed tables and potluck foods to share. A successful addition to this year’s event was a table full of bubbles, stickers and glow sticks for the kids. Neighbors had the opportunity to meet with a local police officer and were unexpectedly visited by the bright lights of a helicopter who flew overhead and shone its lights down into the crowd. Participants came with their families and many made new friends, while others learned some new faces. Families of children were able to identify other families of similar-aged children. All in all, this year’s event was a great success.

Feeling safe and connected is something that most people yearn for, and we applaud efforts to keep these sentiments alive. For anyone interested in participating in National Night Out next year please visit