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Fun, safety combine at Beaverton's National Night Out event

by: Jaime Valdez Beaverton Police K-9 Enzo entertains the crowd by stepping over the barrier, searching for his toy during a demonstration.

The core purpose of National Night Out is to bring community members together with law enforcement and local officials to emphasize public safety awareness and education.

But when you combine a picture-perfect summer evening with free entertainment, pizza and ice cream around a large, kid-friendly fountain, pure fun and enjoyment are all but unavoidable.

Mary and Daniel Brewer were among those at Tuesday evening's National Night Out celebration at Beaverton City Park who seemed to appreciate the annual event's relocation from Griffith Park, where it was held for the past 16 years.

Their 9-year-old son, Ian, was among throngs of children and teens who found the park's fountain irresistible during the two-hour event, which was blessed by clear skies and temperatures in the upper 70s to low 80s.

'Wherever there's a fountain, he's a happy guy,' Daniel Brewer said of Ian. 'He loves water.'

Brewer said he was impressed with the event's offerings as well as its prime location.

'It's a great event,' he said. 'They do it right.'

National Night Out is an event cities and communities across the United States have celebrated on the same early August Tuesday for 28 years. Now in its 17th year of participation, the Beaverton event featured entertainment by Radio Disney, including a dance contest, demonstrations of the Beaverton Police Department's K-9 Unit, displays of emergency response vehicles along with giveaways and games for children.

Sue Hayes, volunteer coordinator for the police department, said the 160 boxes of Papa Murphy's pizza and two carts full of ice cream bars she ordered for the event were, to say the least, well received by the diverse crowd, which Beaverton police officials estimated at 2,000.

'I'm totally thrilled with the turnout,' she said. 'This location is perfect. You have a great sense of community here. And that's the whole (purpose) of the event: the police department and the community coming together.'

Police Chief Geoff Spalding said the event is a rare but ideal opportunity for local residents to interact with safety officials outside encounters during law-enforcement and emergency response incidents.

'It brings people together so they can see what law enforcement does,' he said. 'We can mingle with people and teach them about things such as drug awareness, fire prevention and crime prevention.'

The new location, he noted, made it easier for attendees to see and experience the different exhibits and demonstrations.

'It was kind of spread out before,' he said of the Griffith Park location. 'I think it's excellent here. We have a great turnout tonight.'

Neatly coinciding with the National Night Out event is the city's Sustainability Leadership Project, which has brought 52 visitors from Beaverton's six sister cities for three weeks to exchange sustainable living concepts and ideas.

Several participants in the conference that concludes Friday - including delegations from Russia and Germany - were milling about the park Tuesday night.

Mayor Dennis Doyle found it serendipitous that two innovative, community-based events dovetailed at a location he sees as ideal.

'This is the place we should be doing most of our public events,' he said of the park. 'It's very European to do this in a (town) square with a fountain. It just made sense to me.'

In addition to the public safety agencies that serve the city, Doyle praised the community members who supported National Night Out and the sister cities' delegations.

'The community really came together on this one,' he said.

Neighbors Night Out promotes community connections

Those who missed Tuesday evening's National Night Out celebration in Beaverton City Park, or would like to take in more community camaraderie, should check out the fourth annual Neighbors Night Out held from 5 to 8 p.m. today (Thursday) in the Big Al's parking lot at 14950 S.W. Barrows Road.

Organized by the Neighbors Southwest and Sexton Mountain neighborhoods, the free event features live entertainment, children's activities, local artists, vendors and more.

Alton Harvey, chairman of the Neighbors Southwest Neighborhood Association Committee, said like National Night Out, Neighbors Night Out seeks to bring public safety personnel and local residents closer together.

'I believe these men wearing uniforms, it's not all left to them, it's left to us,' he said. 'There's a lot of new development going in. We're trying to bring togetherness (between) businesses and the neighborhoods.'

For information, call Harvey at 503-430-5512 or visit www.beavertonoregon.gov/neighborhoods .