Georgetowners of all ages will join local police officers and community leaders for a night of music, food and fun at Georgetown University, 37th and O Streets NW, tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug. 7, from 6 to 8 p.m. The 35th annual National Night Out will also feature a moon bounce, a game truck, clowns, face painters and information tables, according to coordinator Kyi Branch of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Second District.
“Each year, the Metropolitan Police Department actively participates in National Night Out by rallying community members throughout the District of Columbia,” according to MPD. Each police district and police service area plans an annual National Night Out event unique to the venue. The MPD website lists cookouts, open houses, block parties, candlelight vigils and athletic events, also with the participation of the Asian and Latino Liaison Units.
This year’s kickoff event, “America’s Night Out Against Crime,” is hosted by the Seventh District PSA at 6 p.m. at the Amphitheater at Oxon Run Park, Mississippi Avenue and 10th Place SE. A highlight will be the “best griller” contest, at which attendees can taste the best from grill masters across the District.
National Night Out began when Matt Peskin, a volunteer with the police department in Lower Merion, in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, realized that hundreds of community watch groups existed without a platform to connect them. He founded and became executive director of the National Association of Town Watch, introducing the National Night Out program in 1984. Now it has become an annual event that takes place on the first Tuesday in August across the nation.
“The National Night Out campaign involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from 9,500 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide,” according to the association. Its purpose is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; generate support for and participation in local anticrime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals, letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Besides the activities in D.C., more than 30 events are planned in the Alexandria and Arlington, Virginia, areas.
“Oh, I’ll definitely be there to greet all my friends,” said Georgetown’s favorite police officer Antonial Atkins. Now semiretired, Atkins covers special events for MPD’s 2nd District.