Neighborhood gatherings create safer communitiesWho are the people in your neighborhood? They used to be the people that you meet each day. In today’s fast-paced world, however, many neighbors don’t stop to chat. On Aug. 6, you can reconnect with them during National Night Out.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Who are the people in your neighborhood? They used to be the people that you meet each day. In today’s fast-paced world, however, many neighbors don’t stop to chat. On Aug. 6, you can reconnect with them during National Night Out.
Behind Northern Lights Elementary School, Jonathan Asp will be dishing up root beer floats to neighbors within an eight-block area.
At Bartley Manor and Woodland Way Apartments, manager Kelly Nystrom has a bounce house already ordered for the event. Their celebration will include free food and beverages as well as prize drawings.
Four Superior churches have already signed up to host National Night Out events, and there will be a large gathering in the Government Center parking lot, as well. The number of parties has increased. There were 11 last year, and Superior Community Policing Officer Bonnie Beste is hoping for more than 20 this year.
“I think the reason why the event has become more popular over the last few years, from three parties a few years ago to 12 parties citywide last year, is that it gives people an opportunity to get to know their neighbors,” Asp said.
Some will be big, blowout bashes. Others will be as simple as an ice cream social or cookout.
“Each neighborhood has their own way of doing things and parties vary in size, but we are all out there having fun,” Asp said. This will be his fifth year hosting one. It is, he said, a surprisingly easy event to put on.
“It doesn’t have to take a lot of work,” Beste said, but it can take a big bite out of crime. If neighbors know each other, they’ll be more apt to notice if there are strangers in the area or something that looks out of place. They’ll also feel more confident giving a neighbor a call or knocking on their door. National Night Out, which was launched in 1984, is America’s night out against crime and an opportunity to gain neighborhood unity in the fight against crime.
“I just think it’s a great opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other,” said Nystrom, who is planning her sixth National Night Out party. The event strengthens community spirit and connects residents. It also fosters closer relations with police officers and firefighters. They make it a point to stop by each party.
“We are able to thank local police and fire for the jobs they do supporting our neighborhoods, and it is usually a big hit with the kids when the fire truck and police motorcycle role up,” Asp said.
Years ago, Nystrom attended a National Night Out event in her neighborhood. It impressed her so much that she launched one at Bartley Manor and Woodland Way in conjunction with their annual picnic. This will be their sixth celebration. Every year, it pulls in about 150 participants.
Both she and Asp said they were glad to see the number of events growing. Although many people have stepped up to lead events next month, Beste is looking for more volunteer hosts.
“We want to help you any way we can,” she said, but “it takes that one person to kind of start it and get people together.”
For information, go to www.natw.org. To start a National Night Out gathering in your neighborhood, contact Beste at 715-395-7401 or email email@example.com.
wi.us. Nystrom also invited all community members to attend the Bartley Manor/Woodland Way bash from 4-6 p.m.
Another community-building event takes place July 30 in the north side parking lot of the Superior Public Library, 1530 Tower Ave. A bounce fun house, games, prize drawings and activities geared for kids in preschool through age 14 will be available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The free event will also feature talks and information on child safety. Mike Almond, a Citizen Watch captain in Superior, helped coordinate events with Beste and children’s librarian Nora Fie.
“Kids are important to him,” Beste said, and it’s important that there are good places for these kids to be. The community policing officer has been going around to city parks to speak to children about safety. She encourages them to yell, be loud and run away if they are in an unsafe situation. Then, she said, it’s important for them to tell someone about it. Beste hopes to share that information at the bounce house event, as well, to reinforce the message.