The communities of Melissa and Anna will both celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday, Oct. 1, with gatherings for local residents.


National Night Out is a chance for people to lock their doors, turn on their lights and spend an evening outdoors, enjoying each other’s company and holding block parties, cookouts and outdoor games. National Night Out block parties are designed to build rapport between citizens and public safety personnel, improve and deepen trust, allow for social interaction within neighborhoods and strengthen confidence in the capabilities of the local public safety network.


“Our purpose is to encourage neighbors who live side-by-side to get to know each other, trust each other and look out for each other,” Melissa Police officer Joseph Collins, the department’s Crime Prevention Officer and co-coordinator of the city’s National Night Out, said. “Police and Fire personnel along with some elected officials will go from location to location that evening, visiting those block parties that we have been made aware of.”


A number of neighborhood block parties will allow Melissa residents the chance to get to know one another in a relaxed setting, share a burger or hot dog and meet members of the Melissa Police Department and Melissa Fire Department on the evening of Oct. 1. First responders will be visiting registered block parties between 6-8:30 p.m. that evening.


Anna’s National Night Out event will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. at Slayter Creek Park, 425 Rosamond Parkway and will feature “free stuff,” giveaways and raffles. Anna residents, and especially new arrivals, can meet their neighbors, Anna Police officers, Anna firefighters, air-ambulance responders and more. There will also be police cars, fire trucks, ambulance and medical helicopter on display for everyone to check out. Anna firefighters will be cooking hot dogs and there will be local business exhibits, a bounce house for children, face painter and balloon artist.


In addition, the Anna event will provide public safety packets with valuable information.


“This is the best way to meet your neighbors and interact with police and fire personnel,” Melissa Fire Captain Jake Leonard, co-coordinator of the NNO program, said. “What we want to avoid is people having to meet neighbors and first responders during an emergency. It’s much better for everyone to meet during a block party.”


Individuals, neighbors or neighborhood associations hosting these parties can alert Collins at jcollins@cityofmelissa.com or Leonard at jleonard@cityofmelissa.com of the time and location through email or by calling 972- 838-2033. Melissa can assist with some materials and technical assistance and will schedule visits from public safety personnel. Officers and firefighters will arrive, mix with local residents, answer questions, provide advice and distribute contact information.