Three associations host parties for their neighbors

Here’s how – and why – volunteers hosted National Night Out events in the Mill Park, Lents, and Glenfair neighborhoods this year …

Portland Fire & Rescue Engine 31 rolls up to Glenfair Park as part of the National Night Out Against Crime celebration.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Around greater Portland, and across the nation, 37.8 million neighbors in 16,124 communities across the neighbors host small, intimate “block parties” – all the way up to large scale events – to celebrate National Night Out Against Crime on the first week of August every year.

According to the National Association of Town Watch, National Night Out is “a cohesive effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie – and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized, and fighting back.”

Here’s how the Mill Park, Lents, and Glenfair neighborhoods in outer East Portland celebrated National Night Out this year …

Mill Park Neighborhood Association
Held in Mill Park

Lots of activities and information booths are set up for neighbors arriving for the Mill Park Neighborhood Association National Night Out.

“For the second year, we consolidated several ‘street parties’ into one event,” said Mill Park’s organizer, Dawn Luethe. “We decided to do one big one for the whole neighborhood.”

At the August 4 celebration, kid’s entertainment was set up in the park, including a big bounce castle, balloon sculpturing, and face painting. The neighborhood association fed everyone with grilled hot dog dinners and ice-cold water.

David Douglas High School graduate Sarah Granberg (you’ve seen her featured in East Portland News coverage of plays and musicals, such as The Foreigner, Wonderful Town, and Rumors), and soon-to-be-freshman at George Fox University, helps out with the face painting – here, with Amari De LaTorre.

Mill Park organizer Dawn Luethe says National Night Out is a way for neighbors to make important connections.

“Our committee of seven volunteers put this together,” said Luethe. “We’ve also had the help of about 20 East Portland Rovers who have helped us set things up, and take them down afterward.”

Of the evening itself, Luethe told East Portland News, “This is important, because it is an opportunity for the neighborhood people to get together and get to know each other.”

Hot dog chef Dylan Daugherty grills more red-hots!

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Sgt. Hank Hayes discusses a special “geocaching” program during his National Night Out visit.

The band, The River Street Six, entertains during the Mill Park National Night Out.

“Even more than being simply a ‘meet-and-greet’, there’s no better way for members of our community to get to know their police and fire first-responders,” Luethe added, “without being in an emergency situation. In short, this is all about building the strength and resiliency of our neighborhood.”

The giant Portland Parks & Recreation outdoor screen, erected in Mill Park, signals that a “Movie in the Park” will be shown at dusk.

At about 6:30 p.m. the evening turned into a “Movie in the Park” party, first featuring live music with the great show band Global FM and the Portland Teen Idols. Then, at dusk, the 2014 movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day flickered to life on their big screen.

Lents Neighborhood Association
Held at Pilgrim Lutheran church

There’s no shortage of fresh, delicious food – or of congenial company – at the Lents National Night Out.

Coming a week after the Lents Street Fair and Founder’s Day Parade, most Lents neighborhood volunteers were exhausted. So, what started as the “unofficial” National Night Out event this year, became “official” a couple days before the August 4 event.

“Our church is cosponsoring this for the Lents neighborhood again this year,” said organizer Alys Allwardt, while cooking hot dogs and hamburgers in the church’s parking lot, facing SE 92nd Avenue.

Tending food on the barbecue is Lents National Night Out event organizer Alys Allwardt.

City of Portland Bureau of Neighborhood Involvement Crime Prevention Specialist Yolanda Sanchez stops in during the Lents National Night Out.

Because their evening wasn’t widely promoted, turnout was light. But, all who came enjoyed low-key conversation and a superb potluck dinner, featuring homemade salads and side dishes.

“I do this, because I like getting to know more people in the neighborhood,” Allwardt remarked as she flipped over a sizzling burger patty. “It’s fun. That’s why I enjoy doing it.”

Glenfair Neighborhood Association
Held in Glenfair Park

All who came to the Glenfair National Night Out event were treated to egg rolls and pastries, once again provided by members of the American Filipino Christian Church.

While there isn’t a “program” at the Glenfair Neighborhood Association National Night Out, everyone who came found food, fun, and educational opportunities at the annual gathering.

Brian Hunt and Pete Borglund, and Kerry Aden with the Rockwood Water District are at the Glenfair event, greeting their water customers.

The rock-and-roll nostalgic hits by The Touchables raise the energy level of the Glenfair National Night Out.

East Portland Rovers volunteers Matt Koch and Tyler Green are popular as they make hundreds of snow cones for visitors on the hot afternoon.

This year Glenfair’s fair and movie was held on the afternoon and evening of August 7. All agreed that the abundant food brought by volunteers of the American Filipino Christian Church was a highlight, along with the snow cones provided East Portland Rovers.

The Portland Parks & Recreation big screen in put up in Glenfair Park will be showing  the 2014 Oscar-winning animated Disney film “Big Hero 6”, as the sun sets on another outer East Portland National Night Out.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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