Our View: Get out for 'Night Out,' our annual stand against crime
From the editorial: "(The event) returns Tuesday with its usual slate of block-off-a-street or open-up-a-backyard community parties, ice-cream socials, cookouts, and neighborhood bike parades. Some simple, some huge, they're planned from Duluth's far-western neighborhoods to the North Shore out east and all across the Northland."
It's back, the one night a year set aside to turn on porch lights and to go out to get to know our neighbors so we can better watch out for each other, so we can build community, and so we can send a clear message: We won't stand for criminal activity and unlawful behavior. Not in our neighborhoods. Not in our cities, townships, or anywhere. Not anymore.
National Night Out — or Neighborhood Night Out, as it's often called — returns Tuesday with its usual slate of block-off-a-street or open-up-a-backyard community parties, ice-cream socials, cookouts, and neighborhood bike parades. Some simple, some huge, they're planned from Duluth's far-western neighborhoods to the North Shore out east and all across the Northland.
Gary and Sandy Winklesky at 3216 Wellington St. in Lincoln Park are hosting what’s believed to be Duluth’s longest-running get-together. Their 46th annual neighborhood picnic is open to “everyone,” they wrote on the Duluth Police-sponsored sign-up page online.
At the other end of the spectrum, “Neighbors of ‘the other Swan Lake’,” along with the geese and gray ducks of Krueger Road and the parallel-running West Arrowhead Road are first-time hosts this year. And punny. “We are going to just ‘wing it’,” they wrote at the sign-up page, with yard games for all ages, gooey s’mores, and a roaring campfire. “In the event of ‘fowl’ weather,” they wrote, “we might not have ‘all of our ducks in a row,’ but we hope you will join us anyway.”
Once again, Duluth police officers and elected officials — particularly those up for election or reelection this fall (we are only one week and one day from the primary, ya know) — are expected to be front and center at many of Tuesday evening’s gatherings. More than 60 National Night Out events were listed as of late last week at the Duluth Police Department’s sign-up and info site at duluthmn.gov/police/community-policing/national-night-out/.
Outside of Duluth, the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office and three different counties — Cherry, Clinton, and McDavitt — are hosting a large and free community barbecue at Clinton Community Center, 8907 Highway 37 in Iron from 4:30 to 8 p.m., Tuesday. On hand will be St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office staff, volunteer Rescue Squad members, county squad cars, K-9 demonstrations, a county 911 dispatching center, a Life Link III helicopter landing at 4:30 p.m. with departure at 5:45 p.m., local EMS and other agencies, and additional presentations. There’ll also be drawings, magic, music, ax-throwing and a bouncy house. Hopefully those last two won’t be located too close to each other.
In Hermantown, a community-wide gathering is scheduled 4:30-7 p.m. at the government services building with food, drinks, and chances to visit with Hermantown police officers and firefighters.
The get-togethers are nationwide, too, all with this goal: "It provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances," as the nonprofit National Association of Town Watch, which founded the annual first-Tuesday-in-August event in 1984, states at its site, natw.org. "National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community."
In the name of improving safety and better relations, the event does more than that, according to former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson of Texas. She's quoted at the site saying, "National Night Out triumphs over a culture that isolates us from each other and allows us to rediscover our own communities. ... The best way to build a safer community is to know your neighbors and your surroundings."
Around the U.S., an estimated 16,000 communities and 38 million people will participate, the National Association of Town Watch reports.
By standing together — on National Night Out and every day — we all can build a safer and more trusting Duluth, Northland, and nation.
That's worth getting out for. And Tuesday it’s back.