Next Tuesday evening, August 1, hundreds of local residents will gather on street corners, at block parties, ice cream socials, and barbecues to celebrate National Night Out in Mason District and Fairfax County. National Night Out first was introduced in 1984, and communities across the nation adopted the first Tuesday in August as a “take back our neighborhood” effort.
National Night Out is designed to heighten awareness of crime prevention, and combating drugs and violence, as well as generate support for, and participation in, local crime-fighting programs. National Night Out strengthens neighborhood spirit and police- community partnerships, and sends a message to criminals that our neighborhoods are organized and watching out for criminal activity.
In Mason District, community policing officers Chip Connor and Brendan Murphy are coordinating the police participation in the neighborhood parties. It is not unusual to see a police cruiser parked at the ice cream social sponsored by the Broyhill Park Civic Association at the Woodley Pool, and officers mingling with children and their parents as ice cream cones drip in the warm summer evening. The Camelot Patrol sponsors a potluck in a neighborhood cul-de-sac that often brings former residents back for a visit. Police Chief Dave Rohrer has been seen there too. The Pinecrest community near the golf course sometimes has double functions: a street barbeque on the townhouse side, and a dessert gathering at the gazebo. The Westlawn community does the same: gatherings at several locations on National Night Out. In Parklawn, the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers will be dished up by Kay Dameron on Hillcrest Place, a new location now that John Langford, long-time chairman of the Mason Station’s Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC), has moved to Maryland. Sue Hotto, chairman of the Franconia Station’s CAC, usually provides a great picnic in Bren Mar. At each site, patrol officers, and sometimes senior staff, meet and greet the residents they are sworn to protect and serve. It’s a great evening, one I always look forward to, and I’ll hope to see you on National Night Out.
Fortunately, National Night Out always is on Tuesday, so it doesn’t conflict with the Spotlight by Starlight free concert series at Mason District Park. Featured tomorrow is Mariachi Estrellas; on Sunday, July 30, is Garry Henson’s Take Note Band; and on Wednesday, August 2, Dixieland Express will entertain. Evening concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. at Mason District Park, 6621 Columbia Pike in Annandale. The Saturday morning children’s show at 10 will feature The Goodlife Puppet Theatre. If you haven’t been to a summer concert yet, you’ve missed an enjoyable evening. The Newton Edwards Amphitheatre provides the best venue in the county. Patrons can bring children, animals (on a leash), and picnics. The amphitheatre seats about 350 on benches, but you also can bring your own chairs or blankets. Handicapped seating also is available.