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By Jamauri Bowles              Follow East Palo Alto Today on
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Thursday, August 15, 2013                  
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Photo ofNatl Night Out block event
                                Photo by Jamauri Bowles
East Palo Alto residents on Illinois Street share
food and listen to music.

National Night Out has been called “America’s Night Out Against Crime.” In East Palo Alto, the residents and the city’s police department held events throughout the city to celebrate this nation’s 30th annual National Night Out, which fell this year on August 6.

National Night Out, itself, was originally introduced in 1984 by Matt Peskin, in an effort to “promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and [to] send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.” All states, other than Texas, celebrate National Night Out on the first Tuesday of August.

In East Palo Alto, there were nine neighborhoods that held festivities. They included: Illinois Street between Bay Road and Michigan Avenue, and between Drew Court and Stevens Avenue as well, Bell Court, Newell Road between Woodland Avenue and West Bayshore Road, the 400 block of Bell Street between Lincoln Street and Euclid Avenue, Joel Davis Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, Runnymede Street before Avelar Street, Garden Street between Oakwood Drive and Addison Avenue, and Azalia Drive between O’Connor Street and Gaillardia Way.

The East Palo Alto Police Department has participated in National Night Out in the city for approximately 10 years. Officer Veronica Barries, the press information officer for the East Palo Alto Police Department, said that the police department contributed hot dogs, buns, hamburgers, condiments, beverages, tables, chairs, jump houses for kids, and portable restrooms. These items have been the police department’s contribution to sites for several years, and Barries said that “it helps bring our neighborhoods together.”

On the block on Illinois Street between Bay Road and Michigan Avenue, kids rode bikes and scooters, and played in a jump house. Other neighborhood residents ate the food that they and others on the block had prepared and they listened to music.

Faida Jama, an East Palo Alto resident, said she enjoys the unexpected fun that happens during National Night Out. “I like the fact that a lot of times [when]we’re here,” she said, “you never know what’s going to happen.”
During the event on the same block, some East Palo Alto residents spoke about how their neighbors need to work together to stop crime in the city and keep drugs off of the streets of East Palo Alto.

“I like that they get different neighbors to come together,” said Evelyn Jackson, another East Palo Alto resident, “and [try] to get it where they’re more involved.”

Some East Palo Alto residents said that they are looking forward to their city’s festivities for next year’s National Night Out.