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National Night Out To Return To Riverbank
A large crowd participates in last year's National Night Out in Riverbank. The event is scheduled to return to the Community Center Park once again, on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Residents can get to know their neighbors, mix and mingle with police, fire and other emergency personnel, and enhance local crime prevention and safety efforts. RIC MCGINNIS/THE NEWS

Local police, fire and emergency personnel will gather again at the Community Center Park in downtown Riverbank next month to celebrate the local version of a National Night Out.

The event began across the country in 1984, held annually and is sponsored at that level by the National Association of Town Watch in both the US and Canada. NNO has grown to include more than 38 million residents in 20,000 communities across the US as of last year.

In the past, two caravans of official vehicles split up and cruised through town, stopping at individual residential areas, visiting Neighborhood Watch groups in town.

In recent years, Chief of Police Erin Kiely has reorganized the efforts to consolidate the evening at CC Park. He has said officers are able to mingle with more citizens during the evening without wasting time moving from area to area, having participants come to the one location.

Nationally, the event is meant to increase awareness about police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, neighborhood watch and other anti-crime efforts. According to city officials, it allows residents to unite with fellow neighbors in strengthening neighborhoods against crime.