A coalition comprised of Pickerington and Violet Township area civic organizations, churches and safety agencies are inviting the public to a "National Night Out" event from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, in Pickerington's Victory Park.

A coalition comprised of Pickerington and Violet Township area civic organizations, churches and safety agencies are inviting the public to a "National Night Out" event from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, in Pickerington's Victory Park.

Free hot dogs, family-friendly activities and live music will be served along with important information about how residents can make their community a safer place in which to live.

"The event is an important step in getting the community together to socialize and learn about neighborhood crime prevention," said Commander Matt Delp of the Pickerington Police Department.

He said organizers hope to educate as many citizens as possible by conducting the event in Victory Park.

"Normally in the past we have helped block watch organizations hold these events in their neighborhoods to encourage people to get to know their neighbors and learn about block watch programs in their area," Delp said.

"By having a centralized celebration, we hope to encourage more people to attend their local events in the future, and to educate people about what they can do to deter and prevent crime on the street," he said.

Pastor Adam Babcock of Eastside Vineyard Church said the event is an important exercise in community-building.

"By coming together for a large-scale National Night Out event, we have the opportunity of launching a renewed effort of caring for each other and being better neighbors and community members as a whole," Babcock said.

He said higher citizen participation equates to a stronger and safer Pickerington and Violet Township.

"Better individuals make better neighbors make better communities," Babcock said.

Music will be provided by "The Cornerstone Rejects" and "Yours For the Taking" and statements will be made by Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray and Violet Township Trustee Terry Dunlap.

Additional speeches will be given by Fairfield County Sheriff David Phelan, Pickerington Police Chief Michael Taylor and Violet Township Fire Department Chief John Eisel.

Eisel said his department will bring a couple of fire trucks to the event and have staff on hand to talk about fire safety and prevention.

"We believe it is a great opportunity to bring neighborhoods together, people to know their neighbors, and to help strengthen those relationships for the future," Eisel said.

"If that can happen, it's a win-win for everyone," he said.

Food and drinks will be served prior to the start of the event at 6:45 p.m. The event will also feature an appearance by "McGruff the Crime Dog."

National Night Out was started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch as an effort to promote crime prevention activities nationwide.

Pickerington and Violet Township will join more than 15,000 other communities across North America in celebrating the event Aug. 6.

A key part of National Night Out festivities includes the traditional "Lights On" campaign in which people are asked to leave their porch lights on as a symbol of unity in the fight against crime.

"We will be encouraging (residents) of the city of Pickerington and Violet Township to leave their lights on for National Night Out Aug. 6," Babcock said.