National Night Out events bring neighbors together

Rick Igou took his wife and children to National Night Out activities Aug. 7 at Central High School.

POLK COUNTY -- Rick Igou took his wife and children to National Night Out activities Aug. 7 at Central High School.

It was rather nice going as a civilian, Igou said.

As a sergeant with the Independence Police Department, Igou is usually on the other end of community policing events. This time, he just got to enjoy it.

The Salem National Guard unit brought in a Blackhawk helicopter. "That was pretty cool," Igou said.

The whole event was a big success, he said. "It went extremely well. We really enjoyed it."

National Night Out is a tradition in Monmouth-Independence. Every August, local residents join millions of people across the country in activities designed to promote safety against crime, fire and other dangers.

Dallas joined in for the first time this year. Not affiliated with the National Night Out organization, the Dallas event was called Neighbors Night Out.

"For a first effort, I think it went very well," said Judy Bowen of Polk County Human Services, one of the coordinators of the event.

Acitivities were held in the new park next to the Dallas Aquatic Center. Bowen said lots of kids were lured from the skate park with ice cream. A lot of senior citizens attended as well.

Members of Dallas Action Together arranged for free swimming by renting the Dallas Aquatic Center from 9 to 10 p.m. during the event.

The offer attracted some 100 people to the aquatic center.

Volunteers passed out National Night Out memorabilia including flying discs as well as miniature lights people can wear on their clothing while walking at night.

Bowen said it had all the earmarkings of a tradition in the making. "I heard a lot of people talking about next year."

Activities at Central High included a new three-on-three basketball tournament. It was a great success, said Monmouth Police Officer Jodi Shimanek.

"That's a result of the sportsmanship displayed by all the players," she said.

Events in both communities included getting photographs and fingerprints of children. Police said parents having such information on file can be invaluable in finding missing children.

2001 marks the 18th year that National Night Out celebrations have been held across the United States, including U.S. territories, cities in Canada and military bases around the world.

More than 9,500 communities hold Block Parties that range from local neighborhood get-togethers to large citywide events that emphasize getting people involved for organized activities in more centralized locations.


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