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NH communities make plans for National Night Out

Many local police and fire departments will host National Night Out on Tuesday, and they’re inviting children and adults to join the festivities. Neighborhoods throughout the state are being invited to join forces with communities nationwide for the 30th annual National Night Out in a massive effort to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness.

Events are planned in Nashua, Bedford, Goffstown, Dunbarton, Bow and Laconia, with celebrations geared to promote police and community relationships.

“This is a night for America to stand together and promote awareness, safety and neighborhood unity,” Matt Peskin, national project coordinator, said in a statement. “National Night Out showcases the vital importance of police-community partnerships and citizen involvement in our fight for a safer nation.”

Peskin described National Night Out as a way to get neighborhoods involved and encourage them to “give crime a going away party.”

Nationwide, about 37.5 million participated in the 2012 America’s Night Out Against Crime. According to Peskin, this year’s event is expected to be the largest ever.

In Nashua, festivities will take place from 5-8 p.m. at the Nashua Boys and Girls Club, 47 Grand Ave.

In the past, several hundred people have typically attended National Night Out in Nashua. The numerous crime watch groups in Nashua are being urged to participate, and are helping to spread the word by inviting area families.

Along with heightening crime and drug prevention awareness, the event is designed to generate support and participation in local anti-crime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and community partnerships, and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and working with local law enforcement agencies, according to Ed Lecius, Nashua’s community policing coordinator.

Numerous activities will take place throughout the evening, including a family swim, informational workshops, games and entertainment, said Lecius.

The highlight of the evening will be a street hockey game between the Nashua Police Athletic League and members of the Boys and Girls Club. Information about the city’s safe neighborhoods initiative and a presentation by members of Nashua’s GREAT anti-gang program will also be available.

Sponsors of the event, which is free and open to the public, include the National Association of Town Watch, Nashua Police Department, Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua and the Nashua Police Athletic League. National Night Out is supported locally and nationally by Target. The local BJ’s Wholesale is also a sponsor.

In past years, there have been tours of the department’s mobile crime scene unit, and children had the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat of a police cruiser, or, if they wished, the back seat.

Fingerprint identification cards are often available, along with DNA kits for children, which help police in case a child is missing or abducted.

In Bedford, the police and fire departments will square off for their annual softball game, as the Bedford Junior Bulldog Cheerleaders will rally the fans.

The Bedford event, sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department, also includes food and family entertainment. The softball game begins at 5:30 p.m., at Selvoski Field at the town pool complex; entertainment is at 7 p.m., featuring Johnny the K.

“We’re getting bigger and bolder,” said Jane O’Brien, Bedford Parks and Recreation program director.

The first pitch in the softball game will be thrown by Danny Somaru, manager at Carrabba’s Italian Grill; the National Anthem will be sung by Maeve Jackson; and Steve Grocott, of the Bedford Girls Softball League, will serve as event master of ceremonies. Members of CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team, will also be on hand.

“Carrabba’s will have food available at a $5 donation, and the money goes toward the winning team’s color guard uniforms,” O’Brien said. “The fire department has a color guard, but the police want to form one but don’t have the money.”

Goffstown police officer Jacqueline Pelletier made something special just for her town’s event — 100 chocolate police badge lollipops.

“I wanted something that would be unique to police and fun for kids,” Pelletier said.

Goffstown is holding events at two locations — the police stations on Mast Road in Pinardville, and at the Church Street station in the Village. The town’s second annual event is from 5 to 8 p.m.

There will be free food at both locations. Hamburgers, hot dogs and popcorn will complement the bounce house and other activities in Pinardville. In the Village, the Rotary Club will have hot dogs, and there will be lots of cotton candy and snow cones. The YMCA will have a craft table, and the kids can create art at the Main Street Program’s coloring booth, and the fire department will host an open house.

In addition, everyone will be invited to hop on for a hayride around the event in the Village, Pelletier said.

“We’re encouraging folks to bring lawn chairs to the field near the station on Church Street to get comfy and enjoy the music by the Larson Brothers Band. I’m told they play excellent music,” she said.

Although the goal is for families to have fun, it is also a way for police to promote relationships within the community.

“It’s a great opportunity for the community to get to know their law enforcement, the rest of the community and business members.,” Pelletier said.

The Dunbarton and Bow police and fire departments will join forces for their 2013 National Night Out, from 5 to 8 p.m., at Bow High School.

The departments have been hosting the event since 2008, but this is the first year for a Kids Bike Parade. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m., and children younger than 10 are invited to display their decorated bikes.

“We’re also allowing them to register their bicycles. We’ll keep track of the serial numbers in case they are misplaced or stolen,” said dispatcher Tricia Currier.

Dunbarton and Bow have been planning a few surprises.

“We’ll have a police cruiser and motorcycles, a helicopter, the K-9 unit, pizza and games, a dunk house and a bounce house. The SWAT team will be here, and the Concord Dance Academy will perform. And, there will be fireworks,” Currier said.

“It’s a great night to provide awareness, and build police and community relationships.”

The Laconia Police Department will be hosting its National Night Out event from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday at Opechee Beach. Free hot dogs, chips, drinks, slushies and FunSpot token cards will be distributed.

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