PIQUA — Neighbors joined with other neighbors at nearly a dozen block parties on Tuesday evening as part of National Night Out, getting visits from the Piqua police and fire departments.
“What we’re building is a relationship,” said Jim Vetter, a member of the PROTECT Piqua Board, chairman of the committee that organized the local National Night Out, and president of the Southview Neighborhood Association.
Vetter, whose own block party was held in the area of Downing and Garnsey streets, said that he was a newcomer to the neighborhood in 1974 and that many of his past neighbors are gone now. He estimated that approximately 60 percent of the homes in the Southview Neighborhood are rentals, so throwing a block party through National Night Out became a way to help the neighborhood be active and meet new neighbors.
“Piqua is a very unique community,” Vetter said.
At the block party being held near the intersection of Adams and Grant streets, children enjoyed water activities with a slip and slide while neighbors prepared for a cookout and potluck.
Shaun Jones, one of the organizers for the Adams Street block party, said that she was happy with the turnout, which included over 20 kids.
“The kids are having a blast. That’s all that matters,” Jones said.
Neighbors also used the occasion to rededicate a resident’s home that they had worked together to repaint and fix up.
In addition to encouraging residents to meet and spend time with their neighbors, those attending block parties also got a chance to connect with their local officers, as six Piqua police officers participated in National Night Out.
“We really like the way it engages neighbors with each other,” Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison said.
The block party in the Southview Neighborhood was also one of the first stops for the Piqua Police Department’s tactical response vehicle.
The Piqua Police Department also utilized National Night Out to get people involved in the filming of the department’s lip sync challenge video, which was something that the department had only been considering for a while until the Sidney Police Department issued a challenge to them.
“We couldn’t let that go,” Jamison joked. “Chief Balling’s not going to get away with challenging us.”
The song choice that they are lip syncing to is being kept a secret — a secret that they are leaking to video participants and other community members during National Night Out to ramp up the fun.
“It’s fun. It’s happy,” Jamison said about the song.
The department is also hinting at the song through their announcements about the video, which they expect to release in two weeks.
Brittany Horn, public relations and special events coordinator for the city of Piqua, is helping the department direct the video, and the Indian Nation Station is helping with the filming and editing.
Jamison also hopes that the timing of this lip sync challenge helps with recruitment, as the department is testing again and looking to hire new officers. He hopes this video will draw in new recruits as well as show the department engaging with local residents.
“I want to get the best in here,” Jamison said.
The department received help through the PROTECT Piqua Board to organize the local National Night Out activities, as PROTECT Piqua sponsored the event. They are also getting the local National Night Out events set up for the future, Jamison added, explaining that these efforts are in preparation for a new chief to possibly take over since he expects to retire within the next year.
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