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Night Out celebrates neighborhood achievements

Night Out celebrates neighborhood achievements

When Tina Hanenberger's southeast Rochester neighborhood hosted its first National Night Out gathering last year, it had just succeeded in getting three vexing rental properties condemned.

"It was a nice celebration for us," said Hanenberger. Residents of the rental properties had threatened to shoot her house and also assaulted a neighbor who stood up to them, she said.

This year, Hanenberger said, the block party in the area of Fourth Street and Eighth Avenue Southeast continues what started last year.

"We're so proud of what we accomplished here," she said. "We're just spreading the word and saying, 'Fight for what you have.'"

Hanenberger's gathering is just one of many scheduled in Rochester and throughout southeastern Minnesota on Tuesday for National Night Out, the annual community crime-prevention event.

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As of Thursday, more than 170 parties have been organized in Olmsted County. There were 164 last year, according to Darrel Hildebrant, the Rochester Police Department's crime-prevention specialist. Most of the parties, 150 of them, will be in Rochester.

Churches and neighborhoods have combined efforts to sponsor bigger parties in recent years.

One such effort is at Bethel Lutheran Church in southeast Rochester, where about 300 people have gathered each year for National Night Out gatherings jointly organized by Redeemer Lutheran Church and Rochester Community Baptist Church during the past three years.

"As churches, we have the same mission of outreach to our neighborhoods," said Kori Petersson of Bethel Lutheran Church. The party will include a school-supplies collection for Riverside Central Elementary and a shoe drive for Lutheran Social Services.

At Cooke Park in northwest Rochester,  the Washington neighborhood will have a large get-together this year with live music. Organizer Pat Staley hopes that 150 people could participate.

"We're stepping it up," said Staley. This year is the first time the neighborhood has used the park for National Night Out.

There's a lot of starter houses in the area, she said, so there can be a lot of turnover. Not all areas have block parties organized, she said, so people in those areas can go to the bigger party at Cooke Park.

"We just hated to see people who weren't included anywhere specifically, so it's just, you know, the more the merrier," Staley said.

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