A group of kids waiting for the program to start at "Families First -- Day Into Night Out" at West Side Community Services on Tuesday, Aug. 7. National Night Out is planned for Tuesday night.
Buffalo observes National Night Out
Buffalo (WBEN) -- For some, it started Tuesday afternoon, but neighborhoods locally and nationally have activities planned to observe the annual National Night Out.
The 29th annual National Night Out is described on its website as "a unique crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch."
For one Buffalo organization, it was felt that perhaps an afternoon event might be a better idea, so they could spend the evening with their families.
Buffalo's West Side Youth Development Coalition hosted a free event called "Families First -- Day Into Night Out" at the West Side Community Services facility at 161 Vermont St.
Activities included games to teach kids how to make positive choices, along with basic crime prevention, emergency preparedness, and bicycle safety.
"One of the most important things is about drugs and crime, and we want to prevent them [local children] from getting involved in any of that," says Danette Porto, human services coordinator at the West Side Community Services.
The organization partners with Buffalo State College on the West Side Youth Development Coalition.
The kids also heard brief remarks from Erie County legislator Betty Jean Grant, and two members of the Buffalo Police Department. Mayor Byron Brown was also scheduled to make an appearance at the Tuesday afternoon event.
Brown says he planned to visit some area neighborhoods Tuesday night.
He says the event is meant to promote neighborhood spirit and send a message that "this a community of people that cares; this is community of people that are looking out for each other, and this is not a good place for the criminal element to operate."
Brown notes that just the "simple act" of leaving a porch light on at night makes the neighborhood safer, because he believes like to work in dark areas.
The Town Watch website also says last year's National Night Out campaign involved citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide. In all, over 37 million people participated in National Night Out 2011.