Local residents, police observe ‘Night Out’

Local residents, police observe ‘Night Out’

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2008 8:11 pm
By: Chris Menees Messenger Staff Reporter

By CHRIS MENEES Messenger Staff Reporter Once again, it was a ‘Night’ to remember in many Union City neighborhoods. Residents in five neighborhoods accepted the Union City Police Department’s challenge to host block parties Tuesday night in celebration of National Night Out, a unique crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and co-sponsored by local police. Parties were held on Melrose Street, at Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church on East College Street, on Gibbs Street, on Rutherford Street and on West Lee Street, with residents in each neighborhood organizing an evening of activities that included food, fun and fellowship. Giant inflatables were provided for the enjoyment of children at the parties on Melrose Street and at Pilgrim Rest, while the Gibbs Street gathering included five horses and riders roaming the area to take in the festivities. All five of the parties lasted late into the evening, with many residents lingering to enjoy conversation or musical entertainment long after darkness had fallen. Union City’s National Night Out activities had kicked off early Tuesday with a community prayer breakfast and service at St. James Episcopal Church, where about 25 people — including police department personnel, local pastors and several citizens — gathered to pray. After the breakfast, Union City Police Chief Joe Garner shared a vision for a local effort to help the homeless and sought assistance in the form of volunteers to serve on a steering committee. Throughout the morning and into early afternoon, a variety of free safety programs were staged at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Union City. They included KidCare Photo I.D., a child safety seat checkpoint, National Child Identification Program (DNA and fingerprint kit), Project Child Safe (free gun locks) and tire safety checks provided by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. In addition, special displays throughout the day at the Union City Municipal Building included those pertaining to highway safety, drug awareness and community policing. Several activities to promote Tuesday’s observance of National Night Out were staged last Thursday in conjunction with the local Boys & Girls Club’s Back 2 School Bash. Among them were an art contest, giant inflatables from Magical Mink’s and a visit from the Union City Fire Department’s fire safety house at Graham Park, as well as a basketball shoot-off at the Boys & Girls Club building on East College Street. (See related photos, Page 22.) National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime efforts; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. This year’s event — which marked the 25th annual National Night Out — was expected to involve over 11,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world. In all, over 35 million people were expected to participate in what is dubbed “America’s Night Out Against Crime.” For the past several years, the Union City Police Department’s National Night Out efforts have drawn national recognition from the National Association of Town Watch. Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 8.6.08

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