PIQUA — The Piqua community will be celebrating National Night Out once again, and for its second year running in the city, the number of neighborhoods planning block parties has doubled.
“Last year was the first year, and we had five,” said Chief Bruce Jamison of the Piqua Police Department.
Jamison said it was the goal of the PROTECT Piqua Board to budget for 10 block parties and double the participation.
“It will be an opportunity for citizens in the community to meet their neighbors and their friends and become better acquainted,” Jim Vetter, president of the Southview Neighborhood Association and PROTECT Piqua trustee, said. Vetter added that it is their hope that people joining in the block parties will create a better awareness of one’s neighborhood and inspire residents to watch out for their neighborhood and neighbors.
Vetter explained that the Southview Neighborhood Association got involved in National Night Out to do just that — meet each other. “We kind of jumped at it,” Vetter said.
Vetter said that the homes in their neighborhood used to be mostly family-owned. They now suspect that over half of the residences are rentals, which may often have some turnover versus longtime residents.
“People don’t always know people,” Vetter said. “For my neighborhood, this is a great idea.”
From Downing Street to Greene Street, Piqua Central Intermediate School to Caldwell Street, Candlewood to Deerfield, Mote Lane to Fisher Drive, and even out at Indian Ridge, Piqua will be partying at approximately 12 locations on Tuesday evening from 6-8 p.m. during National Night Out.
“That’s all that’s confirmed right now,” Jamison said.
Other neighborhoods are welcome to join in and throw their own block parties during this night as well, but Jamison noted that the police department and the PROTECT Piqua Board may not be able to provide the same level of support for any last-minute block parties.
“We might not be able to support them to the same level that we’re supporting these ones, but we would be glad, especially if anybody notices that their part of town doesn’t have one, we would do what we could to get something going,” Jamison said.
Thanks to grants and help from Walmart and the Scott Family McDonald’s as well as the PROTECT Piqua program, the police department and the PROTECT Piqua Board are providing water, gift cards for prizes, and signage. The police department and the PROTECT Piqua Board have also helped get some of the block parties organized for people who wanted to host them but were unsure of how to go about throwing one.
Jamison added that they have also received resources from several different social agencies to contribute to the block parties, which will feature a variety of live music, games in the street, food, and different prizes for games.
Vetter said that they have encouraged all of the block parties to try and have some type of music, food, or entertainment.
“In their own different and unique ways, each of the block parties is trying to implement at least one of those things,” Vetter said. “We have a nice arrangement of block parties around town.”
“Most of them suggest, if you’re making your way to one, bring a chair with you so you can just sit down and visit with people,” Jamison said.
Different organizations, groups, and programs will be making the rounds or handing out information during National Night Out, including the police department, other local law enforcement agencies, the Piqua Fire Department, the Red Cross, Samaritan Behavioral Health, Riverside Developmental Disabilities, Miami County Safe Communities, Kiwanis, Hospice of Miami County, Help Me Grow, Miami County Communications Center, and more.
“It’s an opportunity to not only get to know your neighbors, but maybe learn some things that you don’t know about your community,” Vetter said.
“We’ll have a lot of cars out, and we’ll stop and talk about some of the programs we have,” Jamison said.
The police department will also be driving around their tactical rescue vehicle. The police department acquired this vehicle in April 2014 after they were put on a waiting list when the military began releasing old military equipment to be re-utilized for police work. Previously, the police department had an armored money carrier to use for their tactical response team.
“Our tactical rescue vehicle will be out. We really want kids to be comfortable with that in case we’d ever be using it for an evacuation of a school,” Jamison said.
During an evacuation, such as when there is an active shooter or a stand-off, the police department can use the tactical rescue vehicle to get as close to people as needed to evacuate them. The tactical rescue vehicle would act as a shield, preventing civilians and officers from getting in the line of fire. It can also help officers get close to a possible suspect if needed.
Jamison added that, in the future, they may have to hold a raffle of some sort to decide which block parties the tactical rescue vehicle will visit during National Night Out.
“I hope this keeps growing,” Jamison said.
Overall, Piqua residents are encouraged to step outside and form relationships with their neighbors.
“Look for one in your neighborhood and go meet your neighbors,” Jamison said. “The thing that would make us the happiest is to drive past every one of these and be able to stop in for a little bit and see lots of people talking to each other and meeting each other that haven’t otherwise connected because that’s what really makes neighborhoods stronger and makes the neighborhood a harder target for criminals.”
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Vetter said.
Reach the writer at (937) 451-3336