Published on August 5th, 2013 | by Kate Albert Ward


30th Anniversary of National Night Out Celebrated in Tacoma

National Night Out

This Tuesday, August 6, Tacoma will join cities across the country in celebrating National Night Out (NNO), an event that encourages citizens to get out into their neighborhoods just for one night. The purpose of the event is to reduce crime by establishing relationships among neighbors that build stronger community networks.

The National Association of Town Watch (NATW), a nonprofit organization committed to crime prevention at a grassroots level, started the event in 1984. The project had an immediate following, and the first National Night Out had 2.5 million participants in 23 states. NNO organizers just ask that communities turn their porch lights on and spend one hour out in front of their homes. This turned into barbecues, potlucks, block parties, parades, and concerts as neighbors came together to create a party with a purpose. That first year, reports showed that crime dropped by an average of 40% in participating communities during the event.

Neighbors Park, National Night Out 2012. Image courtesy of Lisa Hepfer

Neighbors Park, National Night Out 2012. Image courtesy of Lisa Hepfer

Now in its 30th year, National Night Out has grown to have over 37 million American and Canadian participants.

Tacoma alone has over 100 gatherings registered for National Night Out as our city has embraced this unique opportunity to combat local crime.

The Safe Streets campaign, whose mission is “Uniting neighbors against crime,” has posted a list of locations for the various events in Tacoma and unincorporated Pierce County on their website. The list shows the diverse ways that NNO can be observed; events are being put on by businesses, churches, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood associations, and individuals in parks, blocked off streets and cul-de-sacs, and parking lots. Civic leaders and service people, such as police and fire departments, will engage in dialogue with locals on issues of community and crime prevention at different events through informal attendance and planned programming.


Fire fighter Ken Horsman giving a tour of Engine House 17's big red truck. From the Tacoma Fire Dept. blog.

Fire fighter Ken Horsman giving a tour of Engine House 17’s big red truck during NNO 2012. From the Tacoma Fire Department blog.

Through Project 365, the NATW emphasizes that NNO can have an impact on your neighborhood during the rest of the year. Even if you don’t see an event for your neighborhood, don’t let this stop you from participating in NNO; all you need to do is turn your porch light on and be present.

Since moving into a home without a backyard, I have learned the importance of simply making a front yard garden and sitting on my front porch for meeting my neighbors. Through this I know that I have wonderful neighbors– the kind who stop to say hello when walking by, bring us homemade raspberry syrup from their garden, and care for the well-being of us and our home.

I wish for this kind of neighborhood community for all my fellow Tacomans and believe it would powerfully transform our city.

Join a National Night Out event: scroll down a bit, check out all the events, and find a fun one near you.

Hilltop Artists hosts an event called Arts Night Out as a part of NNO.

Hilltop Artists hosts an event called Arts Night Out at Jason Lee Middle School as a part of NNO.

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About the Author

A writer for Post Defiance, Kate has done freelance writing for the Museum of Glass, The South Sound User's Guide, and 19th-Century European Paintings at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Kate’s previous experience includes working as the Kress Foundation Interpretive Fellow at the Portland Art Museum, and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor for Portland State University. Kate currently works at Hilltop Artists, a youth development program that uses glass arts to connect young people from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds to better futures.

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