From ice cream socials to block parties and hot dog cookouts, at least 40 communities across Iowa will be taking part in National Night Out events this Tuesday evening.

Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Timmons says it’s an opportunity for first responders to forge new relationships.

“I don’t care if it’s the paramedic or the deputy sheriff or the sheriff or the police chief or the police officer or the firefighter or fire chief,” Timmons says. “Building relationships with our people, building relationships with our kids, because that is our future, letting them know, ‘Hey we’re here to do a job.'”

The first National Night Out was held in 1984. Events feature demonstrations, displays of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances, and plenty of food. The sheriff says it’s about neighbors meeting neighbors, and everyone meeting their first responders.

“We want to help you out,” Timmons says. “Don’t be afraid of a fireman coming in with all of his gear on. He’s there to help you. Don’t be afraid of a paramedic coming in or don’t be afraid of law enforcement, we’re there to help you.”

Iowa communities that have registered to hold events tonight include: Altoona, Anamosa, Burlington, Carlisle, Cascade, Cedar Rapids, Charles City, Council Bluffs, Decorah, Des Moines, Dubuque, Eldridge, Forest City, Fort Dodge, Indianola, Iowa City, Kellogg, Manchester, Marcus, Marengo, Marion, Mason City, Newton, Polk City, Red Oak, Remsen, Riverdale, Rockwell, Sheffield, Sigourney, Sioux City, State Center, Storm Lake, Stuart, Tama, Tiffin, Urbandale, Waterloo, Waukon and West Des Moines.

To find the National Night Out event in your town, go to

(By Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)