There's nothing like a night out to pick up your spirits. And when it's National Night Out, it also sends the message that everyone in the community is of the same spirit when it comes to fighting crime.
National Night Out, the first Tuesday in August, began in 1984 to generate citizen participation in local anti-crime efforts and to build police-community relationships. It's also meant as an opportunity for neighbors to get together for food, fun and friendship. Last year, 15,000 communities and 37 million individuals participated. Lilburn was one of them.
This year, under the leadership of SafetySmart Lilburn President Margot Ashley, residents will gather once more to show their support for their community.
"(National Night Out) is designed to send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back," Vice-President Teresa Czyz said.
And it's not just about a few volunteers putting up posters for a party.
"Gwinnett Police Department offers community building organization to subdivisions that garner 65 percent participation. Three initial meetings are led by Eric Rooks, followed by yearly meetings," Czyz said, noting that NNO provides a good opportunity for people to get out and connect with each another.
But let's get back to this big night out. The organization has gathered more than 50 sponsors so far for the Aug. 7 event at Lilburn City Park. Many local restaurants are donating food and drinks. Entertainment will include music, cookie decorating, police K-9 demonstrations and a chance to see the latest firefighting technology up close.
The activities will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. But it doesn't stop there. After the main event, the celebration goes on. And even those who are unable to attend NNO in the park still have the chance to participate by "Lighting Up Lilburn."
"This year, SafetySmart Lilburn wants everyone in the entire Greater Lilburn area to participate. And it's easy. All you have to do is turn on an outside light or porch light from 8 to 10 p.m." Czyz said.
Participation in NNO can be as simple as that. It does not have to be a major event in order to be included in the national statistics. Registration information and ideas are available at www.natw.org/nno
Norcross will be participating in its first NNO from 4 to 9 p.m. in Thrasher Park, tying in with the community spirit of the Whistle Stop Farmers Market which conveniently runs at the same time.
Registration is still open, and I repeat, this does not have to be complicated. With all the online communication we have available it should be easy enough for every community in the county to get the word out. And how cool it would be to support every policeman in the county by following that familiar advertising slogan of "We'll leave the light on for you."
Susan Larson is a writer from Lilburn. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.