10-01 NNO-01

McGruff the Crime Dog mingles with the neighborhood crowds during last year's National Night Out.

What began as a vigil, where residents left a porch light burning to honor police officers, has become a community celebration that includes block parties, festivals, and cookouts.

Palestine residents will join a global community of nearly 40 million of their neighbors worldwide, as they celebrate National Night Out Tuesday.

“Last year, our goal was to move this event back into the neighborhoods,” Palestine Asst. Chief Mark Harcrow told the Herald-Press. “It was an overwhelming success. This year, we have even more block parties scheduled.”

In all, 15 neighborhoods, churches, and community organizations have planned and registered events to pay their respects to Palestine's finest, and have fun.

Last year, fewer than a dozen neighborhoods participated. “National night out has grown,” PPD Community Liaison Michele Herbert said. “It shows that our residents and emergency response departments are interested and anxious to get together for a common cause.”

Now in it's 35th year, NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make the city safer and more united.

Palestine residents, along with people from tens of thousands of communities worldwide, will mingle with their local police officers, firefighters, and first responders.

“National Night Out is about building and strengthening relationships in the community,” Harcrow said. “This event is not just about police and the community – it's also getting to know those who live around you.”

Jennifer Kimble, of First United Methodist Church, said her congregation will start festivities at 6 p.m. The public is invited to meet the city's emergency workers, mingle, and celebrate.

“Last year we had only hot dogs and bingo,” Kimble told the Herald-Press. “This year, we're adding booths, more bingo prizes, health booths like Angel Home Health, and eye exams by the Lions Club.”

The Larry Street Park National Night Out Committee also invited the public to attend its celebration at Larry Park, including games, food, and fun. Donations are welcome, coordinator Bobbie Smith said.

“National Night Out is our Superbowl,” Police Chief Andy Harvey said. “This is the time when people come out and get to know each other, which helps us combat crime together.”

Tuesday will be Harvey's last NNO with the Palestine Community. On Friday, Harvey submitted his resignation from the department, effective Oct. 18.

For a complete list of participating neighborhoods and organizations, call Michele Herbert at 903-731-8418, or visit the Palestine Police Department Facebook page.

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