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Partying for Safe Neighborhoods

Tuesday, Aug. 7 is 24th annual National Night Out.

Next week, Tuesday night could turn out to be a bigger night for partying than Saturday.

On Aug. 7, communities across the country will observe the 24th annual National Night Out, spending the evening outdoors with neighbors, police officers, firefighters and Emergency Medical Services personnel. Citizens are asked to turn on their porch lights, lock their doors and stay outside between the hours of 6 and 9 p.m.

Police and other public safety officials will make the rounds of the various communities that host cookouts, block parties and ice cream socials. The idea of the event is to raise awareness of crime and drug prevention and to strengthen relations between communities and the police who serve them.

The Cardinal Forest neighborhood, for example, will serve pizza and ice cream and set up children’s games outside the Prince James Clubhouse from 7-9 p.m. "It’ll be festive, and the ice cream will keep everyone cool, and we’re encouraging residents to bring a dish," said Barbara McBrayer, who chairs the neighborhood’s Safety Committee. Police will be coming by later in the celebration. "The big idea is to get police talking to residents and vice versa," said McBrayer.

"It’s good for the kids to see police officers," said Sue Hotto, neighborhood watch director for the Bren Mar Park Civic Association. The Bren Mar neighborhood will grill hamburgers and hotdogs in the cul de sac at the south end of Indian Run Parkway, and residents will bring dishes for a potluck. Most importantly, said Hotto, "we’ll have our famous Bren Mar Snow Cone Machine." The celebration will run from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

"Basically, we’re giving out ice cream," said Sam McCutchen of the Greater Wilton Woods Citizens Association. "Other than that, it’s going to be a nice get-together with whatever else anyone wants to bring." The Wilton Woods Night Out will be at the neighborhood’s Memorial Garden on Ivanhoe Lane from 6-9 p.m. Lee District supervisor candidates Doug Boulter (R) and Jeff McKay (D) will be in attendance.

Ken McCreless, president of the Springfield Oaks Homeowners Association, said the Springfield Oaks event is usually attended by members of both the county and state police forces. Officers, he said, would have safety handouts aimed at both adults and children. The event will be at the end of Springfield Oaks Drive, near the neighborhood’s new Tot Lot, from 7-8:30 p.m. "We just get the neighborhood together, and we have ice cream," said McCreless.

Beth Velkoff, Neighborhood Watch coordinator for the Barrington neighborhood, called Barrington’s Night Out "a carnival-style event." About eight booths will be set up around Braymore Circle at the center of the neighborhood. Among these will be a lemonade stand, a Popsicle and games booth, a craft area, a drawing area, a duck pond and a Neighborhood Watch sign-up booth, as well as a booth just for dogs. "We encourage families to come out and either ride their bikes or walk around the circle," said Velkoff. She said that about 150 people attend the event, which takes place from 6-9 p.m., and she added that the neighborhood was hoping to count McGruff the Crime Dog among the guests.