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Unite for safety on Aug. 4

Are you like me? Do you pass through your neighborhood and wave to neighbors but keep going because dirty laundry waits at home or the back seat of your car is loaded with groceries? Then, I've got just the thing for you: an evening that has been set aside so we can connect with the people who live around us; whether it's the couple who've lived next door for years or the young people with the baby who moved from another state to a house down the block.

Across the country for 26 years, the first Tuesday evening of August has been designated as a night for neighbors to gather and strengthen their neighborhoods. This year, instead of celebrating National Night Out as we have in the past, our city will celebrate the first Night to Unite. Why the change? Because the original organization (National Association of Town Watch) was accused of irresponsible money management. Now, under the direction of the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association, a statewide organization made up of citizens, law enforcement personnel and crime prevention practitioners, Rosemount and other Minnesota cities will celebrate Night to Unite on August 4th. It's the same idea and the same night but a better name, don't you think? Plus, now it has a Minnesota connection.

What exactly is Night to Unite? It's a night when we tell crooks we don't want them around our neighborhoods. A night to make residents aware of crime and drug prevention. To generate support for anticrime programs and strengthen relationships between neighborhoods and community police and fire departments. And it's a night to greet new neighbors and those who've been around awhile.

My neighborhood had its first get-together in 2002. Kripsy Kreme had opened its initial Minnesota store so my husband drove to Maple Grove to pick up six dozen glazed donuts for our party. This year, we're having dessert -- cookies and coffee, ice cream treats, and soda pop. We might play some games, too. Mostly, we'll sit in lawn chairs and talk. That's what we do best.

Whatever you serve, whatever you do, the idea is to be with your neighbors.

If your neighborhood has an event planned, be sure to attend. If no one has organized anything this year, you do it. Phone officer Chad Rosa at the police department (651-322-2012) today or send him an e-mail at Have your children put together a flyer and get it to your neighbors. You'll be surprised: people will ask what they can do to help. When the big night arrives, police officers, city council members and fire personnel will visit neighborhoods. If you don't have a Neighborhood Watch, you can get all the information you'll need to get one going.

Just remember: as you head out the door for your neighborhood's festivities on Aug. 4, lock your doors and turn on your outside lights. Learn the names of the people you wave to as you drive by their house. Introduce yourself to the new residents down the block. Then, thumb your nose at crime.