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August 7, 2013

National Night Out brings out the crowds

JEFFERSONVILLE —

Leaving the porch light on and talking to a neighbor is all it takes.

From there neighborly bonds are formed, friends are made and the area’s neighborhoods get safer because everyone knows and looks out for one another.

That was the point for thousands of Jeffersonville residents that took part in National Night Out Tuesday evening, in an effort to build stronger communities and prevent crime.

While the event takes place in all 50 states and is now in its 30th year, Jeffersonville became involved only two years ago — with much success. National organizers have recognized Jeffersonville with Rookie of the Year and participation awards, and local leaders seek to keep momentum going.

“Each year it gets bigger,” said Sandy Knott, neighborhood resident and organizer for National Night Out in the Cherry Hill Neighborhood.

Nearly 100 people were getting hot dogs, snow cones and popcorn in Bob Hedge Park. Residents said they have seen a turnaround in the neighborhood since they formed a neighborhood association in 2000, and National Night Out is helping to further their goals.

“When we started the neighborhood association in 2000, our neighborhood, it wasn’t unfriendly, but it wasn’t a close-knit neighborhood,” said Alissa Van Gilder, a volunteer for Cherry Hill’s National Night Out and a 25-year resident of the neighborhood. “Now we’ve gotten to be a close-knit group and we watch out for each other. When I first moved in, I didn’t know anybody to speak of in the neighborhood. I have gained some really close friendships. I feel like I’m more part of the neighborhood when I get out and do things like this.”

More than 20 neighborhoods hosted community gatherings, many of which included music, food and giant inflatables that added to the family-fun atmosphere. Area efforts were spearheaded by the Jeffersonville Neighborhood Leadership Alliance, which partnered with the Jeffersonville Police Department.

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