Tonight’s National Night Out: A Community Builder That Started in Our Own Backyard

police with boy
Image via National Night Out.
Tonight, Aug. 2, is National Night Out, a law-enforcement-support event that was pioneered in Montgomery County.

After dusk tonight, Aug. 2., communities nationwide will see residents make their presence known at nightfall, a subtle but powerful symbol of community pride, discourage criminal activity, and thank local law enforcement officers. That initiative — now known as National Night Out — began in a small way in 1970 right here in Lower Merion.

The idea came from resident Matt Peskin, a community watch volunteer, according to the National Night Out website.

As Peskin donated his hours to his neighborhood, fellow volunteers joined him. Their ranks eventually grew to 1,000.

Peskin then learned that other nearby communities were doing the same thing.

By 1981, he merged the initiative into the National Association of Town Watch, which launched National Night Out. Its first edition in 1984 drew 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states.

Tonight, Montgomery County will be doing the same thing in communities that include:

  • Royersford, The First United Church of Christ, 367 Washington Street
  • Plymouth Township, Community Center Park, 2901 Walton Road
  • North Wales, William F. Maule Park at Windlestrae, 1147 Kenas Road
  • Upper Gwynedd Township, Pavilion, 1 Parkside Place
  • Lansdale, Lansdale Borough Police Department, 1 Vine Street

Generally, events start in the late afternoon (5:00 p.m. or so) and run to early evening. They are free and include music, games, and food for purchase.