Monday, August 3, 2009
Nashville block parties gear up for bigger Night Out Against Crime
By Nicole Young • THE TENNESSEAN • August 3, 2009 Tuesday will be a good night to get together with the neighbors, maybe cook out, talk about what's going on around the neighborhood and, oh yeah, fight crime. For 14 years, Nashville has had a strong turnout for its National Night Out Against Crime — and more events than ever are planned for this Tuesday. Organizers say when you get to know your neighbors and the police officers who work in your neighborhood, crime goes down. This year, community groups and neighborhood watches will pull out all the stops to increase turnout, said Scott Wallace, community relations coordinator for the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods. Fifty-five block parties are planned this year. In 2008, Nashville was home to 45 such parties. More people get involved each year as word spreads, Wallace said. Usually, there are three or four new parties a year. "I think more people are aware of the event than ever before," he said. "And, I think they want to get more involved and help with the prevention of crime. "With this type of event, anything goes really. You can have a small, intimate gathering or a huge party." There are some new twists on the old block party. In Antioch, a new event sponsored by a coalition of neighborhood groups called Antioch Together will be held at Hickory Hollow Mall. Event staples such as music, speakers, a play area for kids and exhibits from local businesses and community groups will be on hand. Extras include the Metro Police Department's SWAT helicopter and a hazardous device — read "bomb" — disposal unit that has a robot to do the dirty work. For the Rev. Jay Voorhees, director of community relations for Antioch Together, the event isn't meant to replace others planned in neighborhoods within Antioch, but rather to reflect the entire area. "Antioch is often misperceived as a high crime area," Voorhees said. "And we hope that folks will come together at the mall to say clearly that we all stand together against crime in this area." In East Nashville at the Lockeland Springs Neighborhood Association's event, there'll be live music with a twist. Instead of just one band, organizer Mike Loyco has arranged for three. And, in North Nashville, four neighborhood associations — Buena Vista, Hope Gardens, Salemtown and Germantown — have joined to coordinate a walk to the Bicentennial Mall. Each group will leave its neighborhood at 6 p.m. and gather for a party at the future home of the Museum of African American Music, Art and Culture. Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford said the department is planning to have representatives at all of the Nashville block parties. "These events illustrate that the Police Department can't fight crime alone," Mumford said. "We encourage every citizen to participate in these events.
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