By Jimmie Ferguson and Wendy Gragg
Killeen Daily Herald
Barbecue pits were smoking Tuesday from Harker Heights to Copperas Cove, as residents put on all sorts of block parties.
No, it wasnt a holiday, but rather the annual National Night Out, a nationwide crime-prevention program that encourages neighbors to lock their doors, turn on their outside lights and go outside to meet their neighbors.
In Killeen, 27 parties were set up throughout the city.
This is great, especially with all the deployment, said Tammy Moseley, the Killeen Police Department coordinator of the citys National Night Out activities.
Moseley was out and about Tuesday evening trying to visit each of the scheduled events.
We have them set up in many of the same neighborhoods, and its going off great, Moseley said. We have several people who have been doing it every year, and every year they get more excited and get more things going on at their respective party.
Jeanne Voss, who resides on Imperial Drive, teamed up with Rebecca Morris on Carrollton for a block party to which the residents on both streets were invited.
We have always done it on Carrollton, Voss said. Everybody comes over here.
This is our neighborhood, and we are trying to get everybody out, said Morris, as they listened to music played by The DJs, Roger and Nancy Crager of Harker Heights. Its our opportunity to get out and meet people to get everybody thinking about security of their neighborhood.
Voss said she passed out fliers advertising the block party up and down Imperial and Morris said she did the same on Carrollton.
One of the fliers drew the attention of Gloria Utley, who has lived on Carrollton for 10 years and had never attended one of the annual gatherings.
I work for the Bell County Sheriffs Department, and they would not let me off to come to the block party, she laughed. Its nothing like that, but its the truth. Every time they have one, I am usually at work.
Utley said its not her first block party.
Its nice. Its a great opportunity for me to get to know my neighbors, said Utley, who brought along her 11-month-old grandson, Andrew Blomberg, because I have been here for 10 years, and I dont know all my neighbors.
Jimmy Tittle topped off his ninth National Night Out party in Harker Heights with an appearance by the King himself.
In red cape and glitz, an Elvis impersonator turned Tittles residence, 402 Bonnie Drive, into the place to be for adults and children. Neigh-bors shared burgers, laughs and a little entertainment as they came and went between 7 and 10 p.m.
Tittle said about 120 people come to his party every year.
The neighbors look forward to it now, he said.
Neighbor Robin Waterman, who brought along her puppy, Harley Davidson, said its a good event to bring people together.
My husband is in Iraq right now, so this gives me something to do, she said.
A little to the east, residents on Ball Road were having a ball for National Night Out.
Marie Perales-Santiago and Robert Hernandez Sr. said they hope to have started a tradition this year, by holding the first National Night Out party in their neighborhood.
A trampoline got the children on the street jumping and Hernandez, aka DJ Mr. Lowrider, got the party jumping with a little bit of everything from Tejano to country.
This is my way of giving back to the community, Hernandez said.
Ball Road neighbor Joyce Richardson said she thought Santiagos party was a great idea and she enjoyed meeting the parents of the children she always sees playing.
Ive never seen some of these people before, she said.
In the 3000 block of Zephyr Road in Killeen, Ethel Cook was holding a drawing for neighbors who rotate hosting the annual event from year to year.
We have been doing this for years, Cook said. I just enjoy being with my neighbors. But this a community project, in which everybody participates.
Cook said they used to have some drug addicts and a drug house in the neighborhood, but the neighbors forced them out of the area. Thank God, that passed, she added.
At Tuesdays gathering, Cook and her neighbors had purchased school supplies for the children to get them started out on the right track, which in turn will make their neighborhood safer, she said.
Contact Jimmie Ferguson at email@example.com and Wendy Gragg at wgragg@