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July 6, 2004 > Fremont Gears Up For National Night Out

Fremont Gears Up For National Night Out

by Praveena Raman

In 1984 the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) a nonprofit crime prevention organization started National Night Out as "America's Night Out Against Crime" held on the first Tuesday in August. The initial purpose of the event was to involve entire communities in crime prevention and education efforts. Over the years it has expanded to include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from the police and fire departments, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings. Presently, National Night Out involves about 34 million people in over 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide.

National Night Out has been organized in Fremont for the past few years. My earliest recollection of this event was the Fremont Police Department asking residents to leave their lights on in support of National Night Out and help in fighting crime. I did not have a full understanding or appreciation of this event until 1999 when, as part of the Citizen's Advisory Group to Chief Steckler, we were invited to go with the Police Department to visit Neighborhood parties and meet the residents of Fremont. That year and the year after, together with the Fire department, Police Department, City Council members and other City employees, we went to various neighborhoods all over Fremont.

Besides educating people about the Police Department, the CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) program and hearing about some of the problems residents were facing, I personally learned a lot about the different neighborhoods and met a lot of very friendly residents. During my visit to Glenmoor, I learned that Glenmoor had its own July 4th parade. I met residents who were very proud of their neighborhoods and others who worked hard to keep their neighborhood safe and free of crime and gangs.

In 2002, I had another unique experience as an employee of the Fremont Fire Department and Office of Neighborhoods. I participated in the behind-the-scenes organization of National Night Out together with Claudia Albano, Manager of Office of Neighborhoods and the Office of Neighborhoods staff. It was at this time that the City of Fremont was rolling out the Community Engagement initiative. Claudia and her staff began actively developing neighborhood networks in the different areas of Fremont and motivating residents to take charge of their neighborhoods, strengthening them at the block level, actively preventing crimes in the neighborhoods and preparing for disasters, while getting to know each other. As more neighborhoods started coming together and neighbors bonded with each other, the National Night Out block parties have started increasing in numbers. In 2002 there were about 100 registered parties, in 2003 121 block parties and according to organizer Karen Blount's expectations, perhaps about 150 parties this year.

For the size of Fremont this might still be a small number. If everybody in town got together with some of their neighbors and had a potluck while getting to know them the number of parties could easily escalate into the hundreds. It is possible that the number of registered parties doesn't correlate with the number of residents or blocks getting together. There may be many informal, therefore unregistered parties and in some cases, Neighborhood Networks are formed with residents from several blocks hosting a single party. A good example of this is the Cabrillo/Centerville Neighborhood pre-party (5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m) held in the parking lot of a shopping place. This party, a repeat of last year's success will offer food, entertainment, family activities and a car show. The pre-party is organized with the help of the Centerville Business Association.

This year there might be two pre-parties one at the Cabrillo/Centerville area and the other at Niles. National Night Out is really not about the number of parties being hosted. It is about the number of residents coming together and having a memorable experience getting to know each other; an experience that starts at this event but blossoms and grows through the years forming a big happy community.

This year National Night Out will be held on Tuesday, August 3 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Fremont residents who would like to host a block party or a barbecue or an ice cream social or any another outside activity can contact Community Engagement Specialist Geneva Bosques at gbosques@ci.fremont.ca.us or 790-6957 to get registered. Registration forms can also be obtained at http://fremontpolice.org. The deadline to register is July 23, 2004. The following information should be included when registering - name of host(s), address, home and work phone numbers, email address, address or specific location of your event, and approximate number of people expected to attend. A Block Party Guide is also available from the City of Fremont's Office of Neighborhoods. It provides practical tips for helping to organize a successful event. To receive a free copy, call 790-6740.

If a street needs to be blocked off for the event, a Special Event Permit application must be completed and submitted with a $20.00 application fee. The deadline for filing a Special Event Permit application is Friday, July 23, 2004. An application form can be downloaded from www.fremont.gov/Permits/OtherPermits/SpecialEventsPermit (use the Low Impact Application) or picked up at City Hall, 3300 Capitol Avenue, Building A, or the Development Services Center at 39550 Liberty Street. For more information on the permit application, contact the Development Services Center at 494-4487 (Please note a permit is not required for private streets).

Community Engagement Specialist Karen Blount encourages everyone to sign up for National Night Out. "If people sign up early they can get a visit from city staff. This is a day when neighbors can meet each other, have lots of fun and explore ways to improve the safety and quality of their neighborhoods".

For information about National Night Out contact Community Engagement Specialist, Karen Blount at kblount@ci.fremont.ca.us or at (510) 790-6689.

 
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