NE neighborhoods get ready for National Night Out

The annual citywide National Night Out celebration has been canceled this year due to a lack of funding, but several neighborhood-based events will be available to Northeast residents on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

Created by the National Association of Town Watch in 1984, National Night Out is intended to promote crime prevention, community spirit and police-community partnerships. Thousands of cities and towns across the United States and Canada conduct public gatherings on the designated date. Meanwhile, residents who do not attend an organized activity are encouraged to turn their porch lights on during the night as a demonstration of solidarity against crime.

In Philadelphia in recent years, however, public funding for Operation Town Watch has dwindled, forcing the city’s Town Watch organizers to scale back the program. In previous years, Operation Town Watch held a block party-style event on National Night Out at the Walmart at 1601 S. Columbus Blvd. That event will not occur this year.

However, the 8th Police District Advisory Council, the Fox Chase Town Watch and the Castor Gardens Town Watch will each host public activities.

The 8th district celebration will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the police station at Academy and Red Lion roads. Visitors will be treated to free food and refreshments, children’s games and other family-friendly activities.

There will be a Moonbounce ride, bowling on a portable alley, bicycle identification number etching (Kids must bring their bikes.), child fingerprinting, a “bike rodeo” for kids (Helmets are required.), a hula hoop contest, discounted skating passes to the SkateZone, a kids’ photo opportunity with members of Philadelphia’s SWAT unit (Parents should bring their own cameras.) and an appearance by Mad Dog, the Philadelphia Wings mascot.

Parents may attend a mini-burglary prevention seminar at the district and receive an 8th district decal for their homes.

The Fox Chase Town Watch will host a similar event at Fox Chase School, Rhawn and Halstead streets, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Dozens of area businesses and organizations will be on hand with numerous promotional giveaways including Rita’s Water Ice, Quig’s Pizza and the Philadelphia Police Department’s D.A.R.E. and C.A.R.E. units. Kids can get their faces painted for free, and entire families will be able to enjoy a variety of entertainment, including a performance by teen singer Timmy Kelly.

At 7 p.m., members of the Castor Gardens Town Watch and their neighbors will hold a picnic in the schoolyard at Woodrow Wilson Middle School, Cottman and Loretto avenues. The event is open to the public. Neighborhood residents are encouraged to stop by, enjoy some cookout-style fare and learn about the role of Town Watch in the community.

Residents in the 7th Police District who won’t be able to make one of the Aug. 2 events are invited to an open house at the police station at Bustleton Avenue and Bowler Street on Monday, Aug. 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents are encouraged to bring their children for tours of the police station, including the jail cells, along with a free barbecue lunch. ••