Thousands of neighbors fight crime with ‘Night Out’ parties

North, south, east and west – we traveled to all of the National Night Out gatherings throughout outer East Portland. Here’s your chance to “ride shotgun” on our annual odyssey …

Carol Krikava, Parkrose Neighborhood Association’s Secretary, and Marcy Emerson-Peters (Chair of land use and community development) help out at the National Night Out information center at the Parkrose Festival and Cruise-in on August 2.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton (except as noted)
More than many other cities around the country, Portland – and especially outer East Portland neighborhoods – participates with gusto in the National Night Out Against Crime.

The purpose of these gatherings is to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, and to generate support for – and participation in – local anti-crime programs.

Speaking about the event, Crime Prevention Specialist Rosanne Lee, who works with the East Portland Neighborhood Organization, commented at one of the gatherings, “They strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships. But more than that, they send a message to criminals, letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.”

Not all events were on the “officially designated” dates – National Night Out activities took place all during the first week of August.

Where was the grandest event of all this year? Check out Argay Neighborhood Association’s party!

Saturday, August 2

Oregon Baptist Retirement Home
During the day, folks came by and enjoyed a BBQ luncheon, live Dixieland and Oldies music, participated in a silent auction, and walked among classic cars on the grounds in the 1800 block of NE 108th Avenue.

“We’ve got kids’ activities, police and fire bureau exhibits. and are having lots of run,” said organizer Lou Fontana. Proceeds from their event benefited Snow Cap Community Charities.

Parkrose Neighborhood Association
As part of the 2008 Parkrose Festival and Cruise-in, volunteers of this association talked with many of the thousands of attendees.

“We’re here to get the word out about how our association is actively helping neighbors,” said Marcy Emerson-Peters, past association Chair.

Tuesday, August 5

Gateway Apartments in Hazelwood

In Gateway, Robert Minden and James Oliver grill hot dogs for folks who live in their apartment complex.

For the first time this year, the Gateway Apartments, located in the Hazelwood Neighborhood, held a National Night Out event.

Gateway area neighbor Andrea Long presents some homemade baked goods to Portland Fire & Rescue crew members from Station 30, who were visiting their event.

“Because we have so many families living here, we decided to be part of this,” said coordinator Sandi Lattin. “We’re cooking up hot dogs and we’ve had all kinds of good picnic foods all afternoon – and also for folks who are just getting home from work.  It’s been great; the police department has come by, and firefighters from Station 30 also came to visit.”

Wilkes/Russell Neighborhoods

Kerry Brown shows off one of the several cakes decorated for the Wilkes/Russell event.

Our next stop was up in the northeast corner of outer East Portland. Everyone, including your reporter, missed seeing Ross Monn, former Chair of Wilkes, because of his recent move to Spokane.

Bonny McKnight and Alice Blatt sign in guests at Wilkes/Russell National Night out.

Ice Cream scooper Steven Johnson keeps busy.

But, Kerry Brown and her band of volunteers came together to produce an Ice Cream & Cake Social. Their event included entertainment, gifts and games for their 200+ attendees.

Glenfair Neighborhood Association

Helen Beehler, Donna-Lynn Kublick and Betty Twiss serve pizza for their guests at Glenfair Park.

Again this year, neighbors hosted a pizza dinner in Glenfair Park. About 100 folks came by to mingle and enjoy their hospitality.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadet Joseph Huff gives out “Honorary Cop Badge” stickers at the Glenfair event.

A “makeover” – done by a clown? “Pockets the Clown” (a.k.a. Patricia Bunnell) performs a makeup consultation for Genfair guest Rachelle Grant.

“We’re having a great time, out meeting our neighbors, and letting them know more about our neighborhood association,” said Donna-Lynn Kublick, Chair of the neighborhood association.

Woodland Park

Laura and Glen Heiner – and family – cook up a feast for their National Night Out luau in Woodland Park.

This event moved out of the Heiner family’s driveway – and took over a whole street in the Woodland Park Neighborhood.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Officer John Billard shows kids around his police car.

“We decided to have a luau this year,” said organizer Laura Heiner. “For us, the very best part of National Night Out is getting to know all of our neighbors. I have four kids, and I want to know who my neighbors are.”

Centennial Community Association

Centennial Community Association’s Patty Hicks and Tom Lewis get prize tickets ready for a give away.

More than 120 neighbors showed up at Parklane Park for a potluck dinner, prizes, and information during Centennial Community Association’s event.

Neighbors look at plans Portland Parks & Recreation is considering for further developing Parklane Park.

There were games for kids, face painting, and other activities. Many of the adults enjoyed talking with one another. But a real draw was a chance to see the comprehensive plans set out by the Parks Bureau for developing Parklane Park.

Glenfair’s Lifehouse Baptist Church

“The Haphazards” perform their positive brand of praise music at this community event.

“We’re part of the community,” said Pastor Dan Brown, “so we are participating in this community event.”

PPB Cadets Megan Anderson and Rae McKay help spread the word about community policing – while they enjoy freshly-made Strawberry Shortcake.

Plenty of kids’ games kept the young ones occupied and happily winning prizes, and adult volunteers grilled up hot dogs and other treats.

Argay Neighborhood Association

Portland Mayor Tom Potter is welcomed to the National Night Out event in Argay Park by association Chair Valerie Curry.

Our next stop was in the Argay Neighborhood. Their National Night Out event was already in full swing – and the “KoolTones”, in their sixth consecutive year entertaining there, was playing great classic rock and roll music for the appreciative crowd.

“Thanks to our 61 volunteers, we had a great event,” said Argay Neighborhood’s Chair, Valerie Curry. “We estimate about 500 people came out; Burgerville cooked 485 classic cheeseburgers at the event.”

Bringing the burgers is Rodica Pirv with Heavenly Cafe — and the association’s Transportation Committee Chair – one of more than sixty volunteers helping out at the event.

One of the guests, Portland Mayor Tom Potter, arrived while we were visiting. Potter told attendees, “I’ve been visiting NNO events, and this is the coolest place I’ve been all day. Congratulations on a great National Night Out. Remember to connect up with your neighbors. By working together you can help to keep your neighborhood safe.”

Miguel Ruiz gets a tour of Portland Fire &Rescue Truck 2 from Firefighter Matt Fullerton.

Curry told us an event of this size is only possible because so many individuals, organizations, and companies donate time and materials.

“Again, Shaver Elementary School Principal Cindy Bartman supervised children’s games with the help of SUN School Coordinator Helen Vank and other teachers and parents. Tina Scarborough and Dana McCray sat in the sun throughout the event selling food tickets,” Curry recounted. She also thanked Parkrose High School, Parkrose Hardware, Kyle Ziegler (CastleGate Realty), Jeff Reese’s Parkrose Chevron, and Target stores.

Mill Park Neighborhood Association

Todd Baker cooks up the food for 70 neighbors in Mill Park for their annual street party.

“I think the heat chased people off today,” commented Mill Park’s event organizer, Todd Baker. “The good thing about our event is that we get to know our neighbors. There are a lot of new neighbors in the area this year.”

Lents Neighborhood Association

At Lents Park, volunteers scoop up ice cream sundaes for visiting neighbors. Photo: Mackendree Thompson ROSE Community Development Corp.

For many years, the Lents Neighborhood Association has held an Ice Cream Sundae Social in Lents Park at their National Night Out event.

Portland Development Commission’s Lents Sr. Project Coordinator John Jansons and Housing Services Coordinator Javier Mena share information about area development.

Near the end of the evening, Karin Hanson, Lents organizer Judy Welch, and Mayor Tom Potter talk about the success of National Night Out programs.

According to organizer Judy Welch, they went through about 13 gallons of ice cream, and 400 Otter Pops, as about 250 people came to their event in Lents Park.

Thursday, August 7

Liesl Vistaunet, public relations and marketing director for Portland Adventist Academy, and Rosanne Lee, ONI Crime Prevention Specialist, greet neighbors at this NNO party.

“We’re having our second annual neighborhood block party, and we’re having lots of fun,” is what Liesl Vistaunet, public relations and marketing director for Portland Adventist Academy told us about their event.

Vistaunet said they were holding a block party to welcome neighbors to their campus. “Some people who have visited say they’ve lived here for 50 years, but never set foot on our campus.”

Mattison Bibb learns how to crawl under smoke to reach safety, with the help of Portland Fire & Rescue Fire Inspector Michael O’Keefe.

Christine Escalante and Katie Palumbo serve up flavored snow cones at the Portland Adventist Academy event.

Another reason for holding the event is that the Portland Adventist Academy is starting a building campaign. “Over the next ten years,” Vistaunet explained, “we’re rebuilding our school, on the same property. We want neighbors to know that we’ll be improving our campus – not putting in low-income housing units, or another strip mall shopping center.”

We’re looking forward to next year …
As the sun slowly sank into the western sky, so ended our National Night Out travels for 2008. Now, check our Community Calendar and make plans to attend your neighborhood’s association meeting next month!

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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