A number of neighborhoods in southern Denton County are planning National Night Out events tonight to get to know each other as a part of keeping everyone safer.
National Night Out is a nationwide initiative started in 1984 to encourage residents to turn their porch lights on and organize block parties, sending a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back.
Katie Lentini of Highland Village invited neighbors from 153 homes in her neighborhood with the hope of bringing everyone together.
“If you know your neighbors, you know the strangers,” she said, adding that neighborhoods can become familiar with the kinds of cars driven along the streets.
“I also think it’s a great opportunity for people to get to know their police officers,” she said.
The initiative, started by the National Association of Town Watch, now includes more than 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities from 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases around the world, according to the website, www.natw.org.
Since the first year when an estimated 2.5 million people in 400 communities in 23 states took part, the event has grown beyond the symbolic front porch lights being turned on to block parties with cookouts, parades, visits by emergency services teams and more.
In Flower Mound, about 24 neighborhood watch parties are planned including 11 who will be competing for the Neighborhood of the Year Award, said Officer Justin Buck, who handles crime prevention from the Flower Mound Police Department.
The registered block parties will be receiving visits from town council members, the Flower Mound Police Department, fire trucks, the fire department clowns and McGruff the Crime Dog.
The Flower Mound Police Department will have its annual open house this year on Saturday, Oct. 18, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow parents to bring their children. In previous years, the department held their annual open house on National Night Out.
Duffy said the annual event is an opportunity for neighborhoods to “show a united front against crime.
“You get to know your neighbors,” he said. “That’s kind of a lost art these days.”
Among area National Night Out events are:
National Night Out is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Argyle Town Hall.
The Bartonville Police Department and Bartonville Crime Control District will host a “National Night Out” beginning at 6 p.m. at Bartonville Town Hall, 1941 E. Jeter Road. The event is held each year to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness. National Night Out will include an opportunity to visit with the Bartonville Police Department, meet new residents and will include free food, a bounce house, a magic show, music and more.
The Double Oak Police Department National Night Out is slated from 6 to 9 p.m, at the John B. Wright Park.
The National Night Out event in Rolling Hills Estates from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. off Saddlebrook will include food, snacks, Highland Village police officers and more. Youngsters can dress up in their favorite superhero costumes.