Seeing strength in numbers, representatives from Merion Village, Schumacher Place and German Village are collaborating on a National Night Out event.

Community leaders are encouraging residents from the three neighborhoods to join them in the anti-crime and pro-safety gathering planned from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, July 31, at Schiller Park.

Dee Debenport, coordinator of the Merion Village Block Watch, is credited with reaching out to civic leaders in adjacent neighborhoods and asking them to collaborate on National Night Out, a nationwide movement that is intended to promote unity between residents and law enforcement, raise awareness of crime issues and encourage people to adopt an array of safety measures.

"It's not just your next-door neighbor you need to know; it's your neighbors up and down the south side (of Columbus)," Debenport said.

The designated National Night Out event is scheduled for Aug. 6 nationwide, but the south Columbus groups are holding it a bit early so they can ensure a bigger turnout from the city and other affiliated groups, she said.

Among the evening's scheduled highlights will be appearances by the Columbus police and fire divisions and a parade around the perimeter of Schiller Park starting at 5:45 p.m. There also will be a demonstration about how to properly use a fire extinguisher. Free light bulbs will help light the front porches of the communities, adding another crime-fighting element, Debenport said.

Participants can sign up for a home inspection for smoke detectors, which will be supplied and installed by the Columbus Division of Fire, Debenport said.

In addition, there will be live bands, a juggler and many activities for children.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will bring baby animals and offer tips about how to keep pets safe in the hot weather, she said.

Katharine Moore, a board member of Friends of Schiller Park, said criminals don't delineate neighborhood boundaries, so area residents need to become acquainted and join forces in their mutual fight against crime.

"Coming together and having the same message and sharing strategies is important, but it's also important for city officials to see that we are engaged," Moore said.

Brenda Gischel, president of the Schumacher Place Civic Association, said, "What a great way for (Merion Village Block Watch), German Village and Schumacher Place to come together and celebrate our first responders.

"As a community, we need to unite against crime and we want to thank all of our local businesses that were so gracious in donating money for this cause," Gischel said.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary