Lents neighbors host ‘National Night Out’ celebration

INCLUDES VIDEO VIGNETTE Take a look, and you’ll see neighbors at this traditional version of a National Night Out in outer East Portland, where everyone was welcome …

Many Lents neighbors enjoy a traditional “National Night Out” celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Years ago, one of our annual delights, the first Tuesday in August, was covering as many as a dozen locations – all celebrating “National Night Out Against Crime” (NNO). Some were block parties; others featured barbecues and potlucks; and yet others hosted a “Concert in the Park” and movie set up by Portland Parks & Recreation.

In recent years, these traditional, come-one-come-all events seem to have been discouraged by the City of Portland Bureaus that once sponsored and promoted them.

Welcoming people to the “Night Out” are volunteers Becky Hazen and Emily Greco.

Providing a delightful soundtrack for the gathering is accomplished guitarist Steve Adams.

But, on August 3, East Portland News was invited to attend the National Night Out celebration at the Community Connections Center, on the campus of New Hope Church on slope of Mount Scott – in cooperation with the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association (LNLA).

“We, here at New Hope Church, started working with the LNLA several years ago to put on National Night Out events here on our grounds,” said church staffer Denise Douglas.

“At our event, there is no ‘agenda’ at all; we’re just neighbors reaching out for anyone and everyone who wants to come to have a good time with us,” Douglas told East Portland News.

Their event, open to all, is about creating a more friendly and safe neighborhood, says organizer Denise Douglas.

She, and the other volunteers, missed hosting the big party in 2020, due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Douglas recalled. “What a year or so that we’ve all had,” she remarked. “What we’ve all been through makes our NNO event this year feel more important than ever – being able to greet others, smile and see them eye-to-eye, and share a meal.”

Volunteer Nathan Meeker helps out with the face painting.

In the food area – serving hot dogs, homemade chili, and the fixings are volunteers Tracy Braun and Sharon Vachal.

Hearing neighbors’ public safety concerns, and offering crime prevention tips, are Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Robert Stewart and Lieutenant Lazure.

“I think when we get to know people better, we naturally care more about everyone who lives in our neighborhood, and the surrounding area as well,” observed Douglas.

“The result is a more livable neighborhood, where people feel friendlier, and also safer,” Douglas said, as she scurried off to help other volunteers.

Announcing winners in the free prize drawing is Master of Ceremonies Gary Walker.

Young volunteer Gracee Cooley takes Henry Miley for a pony ride.

You can learn more about the Lents Neighborhood Livability Association by visiting their Facebook page: CLICK HERE.

© 2021 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

 

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