Rumor has it Jimmy Tittle throws the best National Night Out party in town, but other neighborhoods are elevating their games this year.
“They are coming for him,” said Dave Haley, Harker Heights Police Department’s community services officer. “Jimmy’s been at this a long time, so it’s natural for other neighborhoods to take notice and want to make their parties better every year.”
National Night Out is a nationwide event designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships and send messages to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
Haley said he hopes the event will inspire people to organize their own neighborhood watch programs, which has helped reduce crime in Harker Heights.
“We aren’t competing against Jimmy’s party per se, we just try to get better every year and give the kids more to do,” said Peggy McDonald, property manager for Big Oaks Estates. “The kids that live in this community earn money by doing car washes to raise the funds for the things they want at their block party. That’s what gets them motivated to raise the funds to have a great party year after year.”
McDonald said they are having a kiddie carnival, a bounce house, a smorgasbord of food and a petting zoo with a unicorn.
A sense of neighborhood camaraderie and a neighborhood wide pledge to keep criminal activity out of his neighborhood encouraged Tittle to start hosting annual block parties 17 years ago and to organize a neighborhood watch program in his Bonnie Drive neighborhood in north Harker Heights.
“We have four block captains — five including me,” Tittle said. “If we see someone we don’t recognize doing something they aren’t supposed to be doing, we call the authorities.”
Tittle is opening his front yard Tuesday for his 17th annual National Night Out celebration and is anticipating about 150 people. He has lots of food, games and surprise entertainment planned.
“We can make a difference” is the theme for Tittle’s party this year.
There’s never a cost to attend his celebration, but Tittle is asking party-goers and neighbors to bring non-perishable canned food items to donate to the Harker Heights Food Care Center.
As of Wednesday, Haley said the police department has five Harker Heights neighborhoods registered to hold National Night Out block parties on Tuesday, but Haley said it’s not too late to register one.
“This is a great way to get neighbors knowing neighbors. I don’t know the person who lives two blocks from me, but I do know who lives on my left and who lives on my right, and my neighbor knows who lives on his right and left,” Haley said. “This way, everyone watches out for everyone and all I am looking out for is two people, you don’t need to know everyone.”