Neighbors help neighbors to celebrate ‘National Night Out against Crime’

In addition to celebrations in the neighborhood, discover a new trend – volunteers helping out at other neighborhoods’ events throughout outer East Portland …

At Glenfair Neighborhood Association’s 2012 National Night Out party, Multnomah County Sheriffs Office Deputy Joshua Atkins greets people in the crowd, and gives out kids’ safety information flyers.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
All through the first week of August – from the 4th through the 11th –volunteers hosted “National Night Out against Crime” (NNO) parties, in neighborhoods across outer East Portland.

At these events, neighbors gather, get to know one another better, learn how they can become directly involved in improving their neighborhood, get crime prevention tips – and enjoy food, live music, and in many cases, a “Movie in the Park” presentation, too.

Supporting the Parklane “Party in the Park” event in the Centennial neighborhood, visiting Powellhurst Gilbert Neighborhood volunteers Tom Barnes, Barbara Klinger, Donna Dionne, and Debbie Smith take a break in the shade.

Most notable this year was the number of volunteers who traveled out of their own neighborhood to help out at other parties…

Powellhurst-Gilbert volunteers Tom Barnes, Donna Dionne, Debbie Smith, and Barbara Klinger not only put on their own party – but they went on to help at events in Glenfair, Centennial, Wilkes, and also in Gresham’s Rockwood neighborhood.

Glenfair Chair Brenda McSweeney also pitched in at neighboring associations’ parties – as did Centennial Chair Tom Lewis, among many others.

August 4
Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association
National Night Out and Movie at Earl Boyles Park*

In Earl Boyles Park, Trudi Tommaso-Elbon and Terry Elbon cook up and offer free hot dog dinners to neighbors coming to their National Night Out party.

The fact that August’s heat wave began on the day of their event didn’t stop Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association (PGNA) volunteers from setting up booths, games, and a hot dog stand, at Earl Boyles Park.

PGNA volunteer Donna Dionne and event chair Thomas Barnes take a break on this steamy-hot afternoon after setting up for the party.

Thomas Barnes, Powellhurst-Gilbert At neighborhood Association, Public Safety Chair, and Chair of the neighborhood’s National Night Out celebration, commented, “It’s worth the effort, because it brings the community together.”

Francisco Acosta Jr. shoots a hoop (he did make the shot), and wins a prize.

At the prize table, volunteer Ray Morris trades tickets for toys.

The Earl Boyles Park water feature is big hit, with temperatures soaring to a record 102 degrees.

“It’s always important that we offer a venue where people can get together, meet each other, see that there are things going on at their neighborhood – and have a chance to participate,” Barnes added. “This is our opportunity to do that.”

As the sun sets and the evening cools, the crowd swells as folks came out for a “Movie in the Park” presentation: “Kung Fu Panda”.


August 7
Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors
Knott Park National Night Out Party*

Tanya Small, from the Target PDX Airport store, helps with the ring toss game. She is one of a dozen store associates who volunteer at the annual party.

Neighbors were surprised and pleased to see that Portland Mayor Sam Adams kicked off their celebration, held on National Night Out evening at Knott Park.

Many volunteers from two area Target stores were on hand to help out with games for kids and crafts.

Parkrose United Methodist Men’s Group’s volunteers again prepare and serve a hot dog dinner to guests.

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors’ Chair Jim Murphy talks with…well, neighbors.

“This neighborhood comes together for social activities,” remarked the Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors’ Chair, Jim Murphy. “Tonight’s event is important because it builds camaraderie among neighbors.”

The hot dog dinner, live music concert, and family activities, attracted many new faces to their NNO event, Murphy added. “And, I’m seeing a growing interest in people wanting to become involved in our neighborhood association.”

Volunteer Jonathan Owicki, of Tears of Joy Theater, helps kids craft their own “finger butterfly” puppets.

Keeping spirits lively at the Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors party is Portland’s great CAKE tribute band, The Fashion Nuggets.

In addition to providing a place where neighbors can make new connections, Murphy said, “It’s great seeing our volunteers meeting the volunteers from the many other groups who are helping here this evening. These connections help strengthen our neighborhood.”

August 8
Glenfair Neighborhood Association
Glenfair Park National Night Out, and Movie in the Park*

Glenfair Park is bustling, as kids and adults flock to the National Night Out celebration – to enjoy food and fun, as well as to get public safety information.

Building on the success of past years’ events, Glenfair Park was buzzing with activity as neighbors from this outer East Portland neighborhood came out to celebrate Park National Night Out.

“Bringing out neighbors,” commented Glenfair Neighborhood Association Chair Brenda McSweeny, “helps them talk together. When they know each other, it helps reduce crime; and helps them not be afraid, here, in their own community.”

Glenfair Neighborhood Association Chair Brenda McSweeny spends a moment with Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who stopped in at the party.

In charge of the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, the Bureau that coordinates NNO parties across the city, Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz smiled as she greeted McSweeney at the NNO party.

“I think that Brenda and her volunteers, along with the other leaders, have built this from almost nothing to the splendid event we’re seeing here this evening,” Fritz commented.

“People have busy lives, and they’re working hard,” Fritz observed. “They’re earning a living, and trying to make ends meet. These volunteers – here from many other neighborhoods – are making it easy for the guests to relax, and get to know one another better. This really strengthens our communities.”

Invited into their booth, Portland Police Bureau Officer Aaron Schmautz joins volunteers of the American Filipino Christian Church – who serve delicious home-made goodies.

The musical duo of Jim Miller on bass and Alan Hager on guitar play and sing at the celebration.

After the nearly 700 people ate their fill of pizza, as well as the treats from members of the American Filipino Christian Church, the crowd enjoyed the Movie in the Park presentation of the family animated film, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”.

Troy Brighouse, from the American Filipino Christian Church, volunteers to help kids play the beanbag toss game.


August 10
Centennial Community Association’s
Party in Parklane Park*

The sight of this true-to-life replica of animated “Cars” film star “TowMater” created by David Emerson, drops a big hint to folks entering Parklane Park about what the Movie in the Park will be that evening.

Centennial Community Association Chair Tom Lewis and volunteer Mike Vander Veen work to keep a power generator running at their Party in Parklane Park.

While attending to a myriad details – ranging from keeping a balky electrical generator running, to talking with neighbors – Centennial Community Association Chair Tom Lewis managed to keep his calm demeanor.

“In past years, the ‘Party in Parklane Park’ has focused bringing attention to a great park that’s historically been under-improved,” Lewis said. “Nearly half the park is still fenced off, from the time it was an abandoned gravel pit, until now.

“But this year, we were able to have our event coincide with National Night Out,” Lewis continued. “We’re happy to see police, fire, and Parole Officers here this evening, giving their public safety message.”

Volunteers Shannon Abnal, Victoria Schmitt, Brandy Slack, Candice Behm, (front row) Brynne Slack, and Riley Behm are ready to hand out prizes in the Parklane Park Trivia booth.

David Douglas High School junior Devin McIntyre, with Portland Parks & Recreation’s Teen Force Skate Team, demonstrates this high-flying skateboard stunt.

Friends of Powell Butte volunteers Carol Pernar, Dave Specht, and Mary Walker show an antique Meadowland Dairy household delivery box.

A unique feature of this NNO event is the Parklane Park Cruise-in.

As the sun was setting, it was clear that folks weren’t planning to leave, even though the party was winding down. Instead, they were spreading blankets and setting up lawn chairs, reserving their “seats” for the evening’s Movie in the Park presentation, “CARS 2”.

The Parklane Party in the Park continues into the evening, as folks “reserve” seats for the Movie in the Park presentation.


August 11
Wilkes Community Group
Barbecue and NNO Party at Wilkes Park*

The street is closed, but the Barbecue and NNO Party at Wilkes Park is open – an hosting neighbors.

Starting at 3:00 p.m., neighbors from this – the most northeasterly outer East Portland neighborhood – were invited to dine on hot dogs and chips. After supper, the fresh strawberry shortcake and snow cones hit the spot on a hot summer afternoon.

Adding a touch of class to the afternoon’s event, musicians from Portland Chamber Music played classics, while kids played games and enjoyed burning off energy in a huge bounce house – thoughtfully set up in the shade.

Wilkes volunteer Kim Breckel, and her husband Dan Breckel, serve up hot dogs at the party.

Volunteer Shayda Frederickson quickly becomes known as “The Strawberry Shortcake Lady” at the celebration.

Wilkes Community Group board members Shirley Larson serves another snowcone, while Chris Moore shaves more ice.

Crime Prevention Coordinator Mary Tompkins was on hand to provide safety information, as were Portland Police Bureau officers. On this, the second steamy-hot Saturday in a row, folks mostly just looked for a cool place to sit and enjoy one another’s company.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct officers talk with Wilkes Community Group Chair Joyce Ley, and board member Shirley Larson.


August 11
Parkrose Neighborhood Association
National Night Out at Rossi Farms

Neighbors come to celebrate Parkrose’s National Night Out – this year hosted by Rossi Farms.

Taking a break from hosting the party are Parkrose Neighborhood Association board member Marla McGarry-Lawrence, Secretary Annette Stanhope, Chair Mary Walker, and Vice Chair Whitney Kabanuk.

It’s been a while since the Parkrose Neighborhood Association (PNA) sponsored a National Night Out party, agreed their organization’s Chair, Mary Walker.

“We are so excited to have the neighbors come join us for National Night Out at Rossi Farms,” Walker told East Portland News. “It’s beautiful here! We’ve got great live music, raffle baskets, Burgerville hamburgers – and our evening is just getting started.”

Hot dog chef Mike Volk tends the weenies at the Parkrose NNO celebration.

Joe Rossi, and former long-time PNA Chair Marcie Emerson-Peters, toast the continuing improvement of the neighborhood.

Having new neighborhood association board members helped get this party off the ground, she observed. “Getting new members getting involved – that’s really what the neighborhood is all about: Working together to improve the livability, and happiness, in your own neighborhood.”

Musically entertaining is the trio Brothers Dunne.

A fun part of meeting their mid-County neighbors, Walker added, was going door to door to distribute fliers. “People were surprised and happy to learn more about their neighborhood association, as well as being invited to our National Night Out.”

About their hosts, Walker said, “We’re so grateful to the Rossi family. They’re so awesome and generous to our community.”

* These events were funded, in part, by a City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement Neighborhood Small Grant.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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