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National Night Out

National Night Out

Most of us have all heard about National Night out before but very few know what it really is and the history behind it. National Night Out (NNO) is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances. The history of National Night Out is broken up into three sections: the late 1970’s, early 1981, and August 1984.

Late 1970’s: Volunteer Work.

Matt Peskin, founder and executive director of National Association of Town Watch [est. 1981] introduced the National Night Out program in 1984.

Rewind seven years. It begins in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Peskin spent several years volunteering for the Lower Merion Community Watch program, who works in cooperation with the Lower Merion Police Department. During his tenure of volunteer work in the township, he often patrolled his neighborhood, assisted in patrol dispatch and shortly thereafter introduced the program’s newsletter.

The newsletter became a representation of the success that took place within the organization and the volunteer work put forth by over one thousand neighbors. Opportunity to publish new and creative content became more and more difficult as each month passed. Peskin began to reach out to surrounding townships and communities for assistance.

And that’s where it all began. Peskin realized that hundreds of community watch groups existed without a platform or association to connect them together.


Early 1981: The Association.

National Association of Town Watch was founded only a few years later to provide community watch groups the necessary resources and assets to stay informed, interested, involved, and motivated within the community. Neighbors and local law enforcement across the nation supported the association as it steadily grew for the next three years. However, Peskin knew something more was needed

August 1984: The Campaign.

NATW introduced National Night Out in August of 1984 through an already established network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation. The first annual National Night Out involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states. However, the event soon grew to a celebration beyond just front porch vigils.

Neighborhoods across the nation began to host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more. Today, thirty-eight million neighbors in sixteen thousand communities across the nation take part in National Night Out.


To sum up the history, National Night Out started as a neighborhood watch before it became an association which eventually turned into what it is today. This year Grand Rapids several NNO events going on at several Grand Rapids parks. One of the events is being put on by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks.

South Kent NNO

August 1st, 2017

4-8 pm

1439 Eastport Dr.

Kroc Center NNO

August 1st, 2017

5:30-8:30 pm

2500 Division Ave. S


August 1st, 2017

Activities start at 7:30 pm

Family Movie “The Sandlot” at 9 pm

Lincoln Park

Eastown NNO

August 1st, 2017

Starts at 5 pm

Sigsbee Park

Heritage and South Hill NNO

August 1st, 2017

6-8 pm

Pleasant Park

Walker NNO

August 1st, 2017

6-9 pm

Feyen Zylstra

Southtown NNO

August 1st, 2017

4-7 pm

Gerald R. Ford School





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