SJ, BH to host National Night Out events

Hundreds of people gather during a 2017 National Night Out neighborhood event held at City Center Park in downtown Benton Harbor. The annual event is designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, generate support for anti-crime efforts and strengthen police and community partnerships. This year’s event is Aug. 6.

There will be plenty of food and fun for people of all ages as local police and fire departments host two events to celebrate the 36th annual National Night Out in Benton Harbor and St. Joseph.

The program, aimed at improving relationships between police and community members and reducing crime, is celebrated nationwide in more than 10,000 communities.  

“We do this to help make Benton Harbor a better and safer place to live,” said Joyce Robinson, president of Benton Manor Neighborhood Watch. That organization, along with the City of Benton Harbor, Benton Harbor Public Safety Department, Benton Township Police Department, Berrien County Ruff Ryders and other community partners will host National Night Out from 5-8 p.m. Aug. 6 at Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park in Benton Harbor. 

That same evening, St. Joseph Township Police and the St. Joseph Department of Public Safety will host “America’s Night Out Against Crime” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Maiden Lane Community Park in St. Joseph. Lt. Rick Knapp of the St. Joseph Township Police said attendees should note the change from the previous location of Riverview Park due to high water there.

Residents in the Benton Harbor and St. Joseph communities are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening outside with neighbors and police. 

Robinson said the event in Benton Harbor will include the give-away of 300 backpacks containing school supplies donated by the Benton Manor Neighborhood Watch, raffles for one boy’s and one girl’s bicycle donated by Meijer of Benton Harbor, fresh vegetables and recipes provided by Spectrum Health, Lakeland and the YMCA, a candy drop from a fire truck ladder, free food and soda donated by the Berrien County Ruff Ryders, popcorn donated by the Forever Sisters Club and build kits provided by Home Depot. The Berrien County Health Department will have an informational booth, Robinson said.

New this year will be a dunk tank, featuring Benton Harbor Public Safety Director Dan McGinnis, Benton Township Police Sgt. Greg Abrams and others.

Free food at the event in St. Joseph will include hot dogs, brats, soda, chips and ice cream sundaes made with Culver’s frozen custard. Programs will include the Jaws of Life demonstrations, fire trucks, police cars and other emergency equipment to view. The MICHIP children’s identity program will offer parents the chance to have their children’s fingerprints taken and a photo ID created on a computer disc to take home.

The St. Joseph event is sponsored by the St. Joseph Township Neighborhood Watch Program, Jeff’s Towing & Recovery, Pri Mart Petroleum, the Christian Reformed Church of St. Joseph, Riegel Construction and the Vineland Center. 

Contact: jswidwa@TheHP.com, 932-0359, Twitter: @HPSwidwa