By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Eat a hot dog, talk to your neighbors, meet the police.
It's National Night Out tonight, and communities across the Tristate will host "going-away parties" for drugs and crime. The premise: The better residents work with each other and police, the more effective they can be in keeping crime from their backyards.
In Newport, officers and city officials will sit on a dunking machine, inviting expert throwers. In Mason, police and firefighters will fill a parking lot with anti-crime booths and games for kids. In Avondale, a three-day Lincoln Park festival will end with back-to-school wellness checks and a talent show.
The gatherings are part of the 20th annual National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, a nonprofit collection of neighborhood anti-crime groups based in Wynnewood, Pa. Picnics, concerts and crime-prevention talks will be going on in more than 9,800 communities around the country.
Ault Park will host its fourth annual Night Out party, the biggest such observance in Cincinnati.
The event drew more than 3,000 people last year. It grew quickly from the first one, when volunteers outnumbered the guests.
Since then, "we've done a lot of work in just making it fun for kids and their parents," said Tom Meyer, a past president of Ault Park Advisory Council, which organizes the event. "We wanted to remove the obstacles. That's why we have the food - parents can come right after work and feed their kids there."
In Mount Adams, bars and restaurants donated food and drinks. In Winton Place, they'll be snacking on grilled tortilla pizza and watching an animal show. In Middletown, people can check out the Butler County Sheriff's helicopter and license their dogs for half-price.
Gloria Morgan of District 3's resource and community relations committee said the events can lead to longer-term community involvement that prevents crime. "We just want to have people bring their kids and pet the horsie. And maybe they'll get to know the police. We need people to educate themselves."
Local observances of National Night Out
Local events marking the 20th annual National Night Out against crime tonight include opportunities to mingle with police officers, demonstrations of police equipment, food and music. Most are 6-9 p.m., except as noted. Police ask people attending the events to lock their doors and turn on their outside lights.
Avondale: 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Lincoln Park.
Ault Park: 7:30 p.m. in the pavilion; ceremony to honor officers who also are members of military reserve units.
Erlanger: 6 p.m., Brightleaf subdivision off Narrows Road.
Mason: Thriftway parking lot, 1065 Reading Road.
Middletown: 5-9 p.m., Douglass Park, Verity and Lafayette streets.
Mount Adams: Monastery parking lot.
Newport: 6-9:30 p.m., parking lot at Fourth and Columbia streets; 8:50 p.m., ringing of Peace Bell.
Paddock Hills: 7-9 p.m., ice-cream socials in six homes.
Westwood: 7-9 p.m. Westwood Elementary School.
Winton Place: 6-8 p.m. Winton Commons Park.
Pulfer: Justin's case
Korte: Inside City Hall
Howard: Some good news
Ventura won - could Springer?
DeWine to see slaves' trail
Opinion sought on Web access
Truck driver dies on I-471 despite valiant rescue effort
Meet police, eat at crime 'going-away' parties
DNA evidence leads to arrest
Clermont to consider MRDD levy
Man found competent for trial in '74 death
Girls coach arrested on sex charges
Hamilton eatery hopes for revival
Votes today decide school, fire levies
Zoo's later summer nights hit with heat-weary visitors
Charges halt vote on gay bishop
Area leaders push unity in gay bishop debate
Bishop's letter to the diocese
Millions hanging up on landline phones
OSU arson suspect denied bail
Firefighter dies after pet viper bites him
Heavy rain, lightning riddle Ohio
Tristate A.M. Report
Teacher Bethany Kauffman helped children to read
Dad convicted; two children glad
Heavy rains flood Eastern Kentucky counties
Jim Beam warehouse incinerated
Petition calls for official's removal
West Nile found in Boone Co. mosquitoes
Fencing off 2 reservoirs worries some
Erlanger man dies in wreck