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National Night Out promotes unity in Roseville neighborhoods

By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Several Roseville neighborhoods got together Tuesday night for an evening of celebration as part of National Night Out. Now in its 28th year, National Night Out began as a way to bring neighborhoods together and get organized against gang activity and other crimes, said Dee Dee Gunther of the Roseville Police Department. Residents in neighborhoods throughout Roseville gathered to promote community unity and reconnect with neighbors. “This is more than just a barbecue,” said Eric Avery, board member with the North Roseville Recreation Center on High Street. “It’s an opportunity for the police to come, and show that they are not the adversary. They can interact and be a part of the constructive aspects of the community.” The North Roseville Recreation Center was the site for the Roseville Heights Neighborhood Association’s celebration of National Night Out. Neighborhood residents gathered to enjoy fresh tamales and enchiladas served by volunteers, dance routines, karate displays, bounce houses, a water slide and more. Roseville Police Chief Daniel Hahn stopped by for a visit, along with several other police officers, city staff and local firefighters. “In order to have a successful community, you have to have people who are willing to get involved,” Hahn said. “The more the community gets to know each other, knows what cars belong, know what people belong, that’s the way a neighborhood becomes great.” City officials and law enforcement mingled with residents of the Roseville Heights neighborhood before moving on to the next celebration at Cresthaven Park, where neighbors were enjoying a community barbecue. “This is what neighborhoods are all about,” said Roseville City Manager Ray Kerridge, who was making the rounds visiting about eight different Roseville neighborhoods. “The trouble is I always eat too much. If I have any more hot dogs, I’m going to explode.” The City of Roseville started organizing neighborhoods into associations back in 1993 as a way to encourage neighbors to get together, Gunther said. Since that time, some neighborhoods have remained strong, meeting regularly and working together to create crime awareness, while others just meet occasionally as needed, Gunther said. “This is one time a year that you can get together with those old neighbors and meet new ones and have that show of neighborhood unity,” she said. Michelle Miller, executive director of the North Roseville Recreation Center, said National Night Out is a very important event that helps create neighborhood unity. “This is one of the main reasons for why neighborhood associations were started,” Miller said. “We’ve got such a big relationship with our police department. Three years ago, our Latino families would have never been near an officer, now they know them by name.” The first National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, was introduced early in 1984 with the event culminating on the first Tuesday in August. That first year, 2.5 million Americans and 400 communities in 23 states participated in National Night Out, according to association’s website. The event has since grown with more than 15,000 communities from all 50 U.S. states, territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. More than 37 million people participated in National Night Out 2010. Toby Lewis can be reached at tobyl@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TobyLewis_RsvPT.