Swissvale is closing down a few streets Tuesday night and breaking out the hamburgers and hot dogs in conjunction with National Night Out, an effort that brings neighbors together for block parties and community building.
The first Tuesday of August is a nationwide holiday where people are asked to turn on their porch lights, sit outside, talk to their neighbors and plan a block party, said Swissvale Mayor Deneen Swartzwelder.
The events will be held from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. throughout the borough, including near Miriam Street, Fleming Street and Hays Street, Blackhawk Street, Monongahela Avenue and Monroe Street.
“Swissvale Crime Watch started to have the block parties years ago so we started our own tradition,” Swartzwelder said. “We have been doing it for about 10 years and every organizer does something different.”
National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local crime watches, strengthen police-community partnerships and to send a message to the community as a whole that neighbors are connected and organized to prevent crime, according to the organization’s website.
“We bring out picnic tables and grills, bring out a covered dish to share and everyone pitches in for hamburgers and hot dogs,” Swartzwelder said. “Busy lives and hot temperatures don’t leave a lot of time for a social life with neighbors, but the more you know your neighbors, the more they will look out for you.”
Swissvale police and firemen come to visit the block parties as well, bringing little trinkets for the children.
“One year, we had an ethnic food contest that the police judged so we try to make it fun,” she said. “If you can’t participate with your whole block, you can have a porch party or an open house. The whole essence of the evening is to turn on your porch lights and take a bite out of crime.”
For more information, call or visit www.nationalnightout.org.