National Night Out to celebrate closer community ties in Fond du Lac neighborhood
Tari Rayala has noticed a definite change in the dynamics of her Fond du Lac neighborhood in recent years, as evidenced by the growing turnout for annual National Night Out gatherings.
“Our event has been much better-attended since the flood,” said the president of the Fond du Lac Community Club, referring to the June 2012 flooding that caused major damage in the neighborhood. “The flood was hard on everyone, but I think it made people in our community really reach out to one another.”
Neighborhoods across Duluth, the Northland and the nation will celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday. Last year’s event brought together 37.8 million people in 16,242 communities in all 50 states, the U.S. territories, Canada and U.S. military bases around the world. Organizers predict this year’s celebration will be even bigger.
The event, now in its 31st year, aims to build community and promote crime prevention.
Local gatherings are being co-sponsored by the Duluth Police Department and the National Association of Town Watch.
“This event gives our officers a chance to visit with neighbors and celebrate many of the strong relationships that have been built,” said Jim Hansen, Duluth police spokesman.
“We work hard to maintain that sense of trust. It’s certainly nothing we take for granted,” he said.
Hansen noted that neighborhood residents have proven to be effective partners in fighting crime.
“We have many examples where neighbors watching out for neighbors and reporting suspicious activity has led to arrests,” he said.
Rayala said her neighborhood continues to recover from the 2012 flood. This year, Fond du Lac residents will be invited to check out the progress of new tennis and basketball courts that are now being installed in the neighborhood’s park to replace facilities damaged when much of the community was submerged.
“Sometimes tragedies and difficult situations can cause people to rally together,” said Hansen, reflecting on residents’ resilience.
“All it will take is the prospect of some good food and music, and people will come out of the woodwork,” Rayala said.