Communities came together in camaraderie last week as both Anna and Melissa celebrated the annual National Night Out event. National Night Out began as a neighborhood watch and crime prevention event, but has now evolved into a night of fun, food and relationship building with neighbors and local law enforcement officers.

These events are hosted on the first Tuesday in October in Texas, and come at a vital time as both Anna’s and Melissa’s populations soar. As of 2018, an estimated 10,200 people lived in Melissa with a growth rate of over 10%. Anna tops Melissa with an estimated population over 14,000, and a growth rate around 11.4%. As businesses come flooding in and new families search for affordable housing north of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, officials expect these growth rates for both cities to increase.

With a more dense population comes a natural increase in crime rates, and with the influx of new families moving into town as new housing developments spread and new apartments are constructed, both Anna and Melissa are gaining more and more new neighbors. The National Night Out program sponsored by each city’s police department is a vital resource for the community during this growth.

The city of Anna celebrated at Slayter Creek Park on the evening of Tuesday, Oct. 1. The park pavilion was packed with community members young and old. Residents ate and laughed together in the shade while children played lawn games, ran around the playground, and jumped in the bounce house. A stage was set up for welcome speeches from Anna Police officers, and popular music played by a local band.

Melissa held various events around town. Trails of Melissa, Berry Farms, Northcreek and Villages of Melissa held their events on Tuesday each with a meal, whether it be hot dogs or potluck-style, and accompaniment by some of Melissa’s finest police officers and firefighters. Turnout ranged from curbside get-togethers to full out block parties. The Liberty subdivision held its community-wide celebration on Friday night. Residents enjoyed food, bounce houses, basketball and local vendors offering a range of items.

National Night Out has grown into a nationwide celebration boasting over 38 million participants over 16,000 communities.

“The best way to build a safer community is to know your neighbors and your surroundings,” former Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison said. “National Night Out triumphs over a culture that isolates us from each other and allows us to rediscover our own communities.”