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Garfield neighborhood plans National Night Out event on Tuesday

WILLMAR -- Neighbors in the Garfield School area of Willmar are planning their fifth annual event in conjunction with National Night Out on Tuesday.

The local event starts at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the park area at Garfield School in Willmar. Root beer floats will be served, and representatives from the Willmar Police Department will be on hand, and members of the Willmar Fire Department and Willmar Ambulance also are expected.

"It's about a safe neighborhood, it's about awareness, it's about working together," said Karen Thibault, one of the neighborhood organizers.

National Night Out, "America's Night Out Against Crime," is a nationwide crime and drug prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Nationally it is in its 29th year, according to the association's website. Communities across the country plan events on Tuesday to heighten awareness of crime and drug prevention, strengthen neighborhoods and generate partnerships between law enforcement and neighborhood residents.

Thibault and Anne Nelson are organizing the Garfield event. Fliers are printed, and Nelson has been posting some already.

There is not a formal neighborhood organization, but Thibault said they are an active group. They often have a picnic together during Willmar Fests, for example, and there have been discussions about a neighborhood garage sale.

According to the National Association of Town Watch, National Night Out activities have expanded considerably over the years to include block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from police, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.

Susan Lunneborg