Communities across Iowa and nationwide will take part in events tonight that are designed to unify neighborhood residents in the fight against crime. This is what’s known as the National Night Out, according to Matt Peskin, executive director of the National Association of Town Watch, which is sponsoring the 27th annual event.

He says 15,000 communities nationwide are participating in the Night Out, including some 36-million people. The event is designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, Peskin says, as well as to strengthening neighborhood spirit and partnerships between communities and police. He says the National Night Out has grown significantly from its humble beginnings, several years ago.

Early on, they just wanted people to flip on their porch lights and sit out front for a few hours to show that 99-percent of us are law-abiding citizens and to demonstrate how many of us are united against crime. As the years went on, to get more people involved, they pushed the larger events, parades, block parties and cookouts. Peskin says the increased interaction sparks familiarity and cooperation between neighbors in helping keep their communities safe. He says the Night Out events vary from town to town.

Some places have big festivals with carnival rides while other areas have several large block parties or ice cream socials. About 150 Iowa communities will be holding events tonight, including: Ames, Anamosa, Ankeny, Bondurant, Burlington, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Clermont, Clinton, Coralville, Davenport, Des Moines, DeWitt, Dubuque, Glenwood, Grinnell, Hiawatha, Independence, Iowa City, Jackson County, Johnston, Lake Mills, Le Claire, Mason City, Monticello, Muscatine, Muscatine County, Newton, Oelwein, Pleasantville, Sioux City, Storm Lake, Stuart, Tipton, Troy, Urbandale, Wadena, Waterloo, Waukee, Webster City, Webster County, West Union, Windsor Heights, Winnebago County and Worth County.

For more information, visit: “” or call 800-NITE-OUT.

By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City