By Alicia Lacy

The Cove Herald

Cotton candy, inflatable obstacle courses, hot dogs, door prizes, bikers, a car smash and a DJ were all a part of Copperas Cove’s 11th National Night Out kickoff block party Saturday

The block party brought together a diverse group of families and communities to promote strength and unity in neighborhoods.

Tuesday night was the official date for National Night Out in Texas.

Local organizations and businesses worked with the city to put on this community event that encourages residents to get to know one another.

Police Lt. Daniel Austin coordinated the annual event.

“We’re trying to bring everybody in the community together. Everybody volunteers to do something and that way everybody gets to advertise and promote the community because what this is about is getting to know your neighbors,” Austin said.

Cove resident Marlene Henry, who has participated in the annual block party since it began, shares the city’s view of getting to know your neighbors.

“A lot of us come home and drive in our garage so we don’t even know what our neighbors look like; it’s important to get to know them so we can watch out for each other,” she said.

Andrea “Puddles” Jones, a member of Bikers Against Child Abuse, wanted to refute the myth that all bikers are bad.

“We just want people to know that we’re out here and that we’re to help kids and support our kids that need help, and everybody likes to see a bike,” Jones said.

The organization participated in the event since it began. The group handed out tattoos and candy, “and letting kids get to know us and not all bikers are bad people because some of us really like kids,” Jones said.

Michael Reick and John Pitts from Game Crazy offered residents a unique way of bringing families together through gaming, which has been given a “bad rap.”

“There are a lot of parents who don’t know about the game industry and they’ll have 10- and 12-year-old boys playing ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ We’re explaining how the ratings work and in the store we do the same thing,” Reick said, “If parents have enough interaction with their children to teach them what is right and wrong and what is fiction and what is fact, kids would not attempt to re-enact video games.”

Reick suggested the Nintendo Wii system as a great way to bring a family together because many of the games are family-oriented.

The 25th Annual National Night Out, a crime/drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, was scheduled for Aug. 5, but Texas is the only state testing a new date, Oct. 7.

“We traditionally have done it in August. This year’s kind of an experiment because if we did this in August people would just be burning up,” Austin said.

Last year’s National Night Out campaign involved residents, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from more than 10,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide.

In all, more than 35 million people participated in National Night Out.

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