MERCED -- Merced County residents in several communities came out Tuesday for National Night Out, with the goal of fighting crime in their communities. Celebrations were held in Merced's Applegate Park, in addition to downtown Livingston, Dos Palos and the Target shopping center in Atwater. The event, which happens the first Tuesday in August, is an opportunity for residents to meet their police officers and firefighters, sign up to form Neighborhood Watch programs and learn crime-fighting tips. At right, Abigale Rocha, 10, gives McGruff the Crime Dog a big hug at Applegate Park. Below, Merced Police Explorers serve attendees at Applegate Park free drinks, potato chips and hot dogs. For more information about the National Night Out program, visit www.nationalnightout.org.