Block parties bring neighborhoods, people together

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 8, 2001

With block parties and activities for children, Natchez communities gave crime a &uot;going away party&uot; Tuesday night.

About 14 local neighborhoods took part in the 18th-annual National Night Out celebration.

&uot;What we’re trying to do is draw the neighbors closer together, so they can get familiar with those surrounding them,&uot; said Officer Charles Woods with the Natchez Police Department.

Years ago residents were well acquainted with the people who lived on their street. &uot;Now the people hardly know their next-door neighbors,&uot; Woods said.

National Night Out was designed to foster community partnerships, and, in turn, heighten crime and drug prevention awareness.

It was sponsored nationally by the National Association of Town Watch and locally by the Natchez Police Department.

&uot;(It) gives the neighbors a chance to meet one another and associate with one another … have a good time and get out of their houses,&uot; said Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff.

During the celebration, officials with the Natchez Police Department and other agencies visited the various communities.

Huff hopes National Night Out sends a positive message to young people about each other, the adults that live around them and police officers in general.

&uot;I think the kids see their parents and their neighbors socializing,&uot; at National Night Out, Huff said. &uot;They see the police come up in a non-threatening manner and hopefully it fosters good will between the kids in the neighborhoods, too.&uot;

Leonard Rice, a member of the management team at Susie B. West Apartments/Lower Woodville Heights, said National Night Out gives young people something to do.

&uot;It gives the community a chance to get together,&uot; Rice said. &uot;It’s a yearly community event that everybody looks forward to.&uot;

He agrees the event serves as another method to warn children of the dangers of drugs and crime. It also serves as another opportunity to remind young people to report problems in their community.

&uot;If the kids see anything that don’t look right they normally come and tell us,&uot; Rice said. &uot;Those (are) our biggest ears – kids.&uot;