NEW BRITAIN -— Police will sponsor their local version of the National Night Out next week with a change: There will be two locations instead of one.
Activities are planned Aug. 5 at Willow Street Park as well as at Walnut Hill Park.
Around the country, thousands of communities are holding picnics, festivals or small parades on Aug. 5 for the 31st annual National Night Out. Nearly 20 Connecticut towns and cities are holding a version of the event, including Wethersfield, Hamden, East Haven, Groton, Simsbury, Norwich and Torrington.
National Night Out founder Matt Peskin has described the inaugural event in Texas in 1984 as a way to build community support for making the streets and sidewalks safer every day of the year. The theme is similar to a "Take Back the Night" effort, but targets all types of crime from vandalism to robbery.
In New Britain, city business have donated food and money for entertainment. Volunteers from the neighborhood revitalization zones and neighborhood block watches will be involved, and the police department will have an extensive presence at both parks.
There will be games, prizes, police demonstrations and a cookout with hot dogs, hamburgers, snacks and ice cream at Walnut Hill and Willow Street parks beginning at 5 p.m., Capt. Christopher Chute reported.
Willow Street Park events include a bicycle safety demonstration, a PAL Raiders Football information booth, a demonstration by the New Britain EMS, a disc jockey with live entertainment and participation by the North/Oak Street NRZ.
At Walnut Hill Park, the schedule includes a physical fitness event for children at 5:30 p.m. and a bicycle safety activity at 6 p.m. The fire department will demonstrate its smoke trailer, the Berlin police will have their car crash simulator available, city police will put on a motorcycle demonstration, New Britain EMS will install child safety seats, and Central Connecticut State University will provide a "drunk goggles" demonstration. The park and recreation department will have a bounce house.
Both parks will have disc jockeys with live music along with a "touch a truck" demonstration with the New Britain police SWAT vehicle.