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Night Out: An Opportunity to Reach Out to Neighbors, Old and New

Night Out is a national community-building event organized in cities and towns across the country by police department personnel and neighborhood volunteers. Night Out is always the first Tuesday in August. Across the country, neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, kids’ activities, music and dance, presentations by public safety experts such as police, fire, and emergency management agencies, and more.

Night Out was born in a Philadelphia suburb in 1984. After years of community watch volunteer work—something we commonly call Block Watch—the founder of the National Association of Town Watch saw an opportunity to provide neighborhoods and communities with a platform to help them connect with neighbors and with each other. More than 30 years later, Night Out involves more than 38 million residents in 16,000 communities across the United States.

Night Out is coming up—again, always the first Tuesday in August. Is this the year that you organize a potluck and invite everyone on your street to participate? How about that neighbor you never see? How about that neighbor who moved in several months ago and you never found the time to go introduce yourself? Yes and yes. Night Out is for everyone, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to reach out to all neighbors, old and new.

Food often brings people together, so Night Out potlucks are popular. But if you don’t want to organize a food event, consider other options. How about organizing an evening when everyone plants flowers, or simply spiffs up the front of the property on which they live through weeding, painting, or fixing a broken fence?

How about making it a learning event? Ask your neighbors what kind of information they would like to have about community services, including police, fire, health, and disaster preparedness. It’s not difficult to request speakers, although some may already be committed to multiple events on Night Out. You can call your local police department or sheriff’s office (use the non-emergency line) or your closest branch library (Seattle | King County) to ask for suggestions. In many areas, you can call 3-1-1, a non-emergency local government hotline. Nextdoor and neighborhood blogs are also a wealth of information, as are your elected representatives.

What are the benefits?

Whether you’re an extrovert or you relish your time alone, you will benefit from knowing your neighbors better.

  • When you know your neighbors, everyone is better prepared to act if something is wrong, whether it’s suspicious activity, an accident in the home, or an earthquake.
  • Your neighborhood becomes less of an easy target when there are more “eyes on the street.”
  • You learn about other people’s lives, which can be fascinating.
  • Neighbors are good to have when you need someone to watch for a package, water your garden, walk the dog, and when you need to borrow a tool for a once-in-a-lifetime repair. Sometimes they even make the repair for you.
  • It feels good to be greeted by people you know, and to greet others.
  • You will feel safer and more secure, knowing the people who live nearest to you.

Night Out resources

There is a wealth of online resources for Night Out across King County, including Auburn, Des Moines, Kenmore, Kent, Redmond, Renton, Richmond Beach, Seattle, and Tukwila. Don’t see your area on this list? For a list of non-emergency phone numbers for police agencies around King County, click here.