While communities including New Waverly have opted to cancel their National Night Out events for the year, Huntsville police are doing what they can to continue the 50-year tradition.
“In the past, we’ve seen a lot of communities and neighborhoods come together and do block parties,” Huntsville Police Department community service officer David Warner said.
Huntsville’s National Night Out event was formerly held at Kate Barr Ross Park with local businesses sponsoring the event and donating large amounts of food for the city to enjoy. However, in the past three years or so, the event has been scaled down to individual neighborhood block parties to get back to National Night Out’s true intentions.
“Rather than it being a city-wide event, we’re starting to see the neighborhoods themselves become closer-knit, which helps us in a lot of ways, because when your neighbors all get together and they all know each other, you get the sense of ownership in your neighborhood,” Warner said.
“It really helps out, because they’re able to look out for each other, they actually know who lives across the street, what vehicle they drive, and when they see things that look out of place, they end up giving us a call,” Warner said. “It helps out a lot on us being able to solve crimes or send officers over before something does happen.”
Now, individual neighborhoods of 50 to 60 people organize their own events with assistance from the Huntsville Police Department, if necessary, to guide newcomers through the planning process, finding food sources and sponsors.
“With COVID-19 this year, it’s obviously going to change things quite a bit,” Warner said.
“Our administration has weighed the different options that are out there, and given that the governor’s orders are still in place as far as social distancing requirements and face mask coverings, there’s no way that we should be promoting very large social gatherings outdoors. So we’re trying to offer up different alternatives that neighborhoods can engage in while still being socially distant and being responsible health-wise.”
The police department took to social media Monday to share ideas to participate in the event that have been suggested in different communities. Some suggestions include turning on your porch lights (or changing out an ordinary bulb for a blue one), decorating your yard with signs, holding driveway picnics for individual households or hosting a face mask decorating contest.
“They can go very simple or they can plan do something more extravagant, and we don’t know, that’ll be up to them, and that’s really what it’s all about, is letting them make that decision,” Warner said.
Elkins Lake will be discussing how they as a community plan to address the evening at their upcoming board meeting. Warner will also be making his rounds to certain neighborhoods leading up to the event to get an idea of what they have planned and if they need help.
National Night Out is scheduled to take place October 6, from early afternoon through the evening, however, Warner notes that neighborhoods are welcome to host their event any time or day that they choose.
If your neighborhood chooses to participate in this year’s National Night Out, please make Warner aware to ensure that an officer is able to stop by. Furthermore, if you have any questions, concerns or need help planning a National Night Out event, contact Warner at (936) 291-5480.