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Citizens Take Back Streets

Neighborhoods gather together for National Night Out Celebrations.

Fire trucks, ambulances, police cruisers and helicopters were busy in Mount Vernon this week — visiting the various neighborhoods that were holding National Night Out celebrations.

This traditional evening of "lights on" and front porch vigils was introduced in 1984 and has grown steadily in participation since then. This year, it included crime prevention block parties, cookouts, ice cream socials, magic shows, flashlight walks, safety fairs and neighborhood meetings throughout Fairfax County. Eleven Mount Vernon neighborhoods held events, including Belle Haven on the Green, Bucknell Manor, Collingwood Springs, Engleside, Jefferson Manor, Mt. Zephyr Community, New Alexandria, Pinewood Lakes, Pinewood Lawns, Woodlawn Manor and Wyngate Manor Townhouses. This was the 11th year for Engleside, and coordinator Janice Harris said that they’re considering having t-shirts made next year. It was the first year for a few of these neighborhoods, including New Alexandria. Coordinators Joan Darrah and Lynne Kennedy said their event attracted about 60 neighbors, several police officers, a politician and a helicopter flyover.

National Night Out is designed to: heighten awareness of crime prevention, combating drugs and violence; generate support for, and participation in, local crime-fighting programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

Police officers, firefighters and medics were out in force trying to visit all of the sites in Mount Vernon. Not only did Capt. Mike Kline, commander, Mount Vernon District Station and Lt. Shawn Bennett make the rounds, but former Mount Vernon District commanders Deputy Chief Steve Sellers, Major Shawn Barrett, Major Tyrone Morrow and Major Larry Moser came out as well.