National Night Out event Aug. 2 at the Zoo at Applegate Park

The Zoo at Applegate Park will serve as the venue for the 28th Annual National Night Out program on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

The event will start at 6 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Food, fun and education will be available. Admission to the Zoo at Applegate Park, rides at Kiddieland and hot dogs will be free to participants. Neighborhoods throughout the city of Merced are invited and encouraged to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the National Night Out crime and drug prevention event.

"On this night, millions of Americans will take a stand against crime while building community and safer neighborhoods," Police Chief Norman Andrade said in a news release. The National Night Out program is part of the National Association of Town Watch, and reinforces the purpose of the Neighborhood Watch program. National Night Out provides an opportunity to meet neighbors, strengthen the community and fight crime, according to the release.

Residents in neighborhoods throughout Merced are asked to lock their doors, turn on outside lights and spend the evening with neighbors and safety officials. Neighbors are encouraged to host special events such as block parties, cookouts, ice cream social or neighborhood gatherings. If neighborhoods are holding a block party, remember to register your event with Lindsey Johnson of the Merced Recreation Division at (209) 385-6855.

"The community, neighborhoods, and residents are key to crime prevention and National Night Out is their united voice against crime," City Manager John Bramble said in the release. National Night Out is a chance for the public to meet firefighters and police officers, and sign up for the city's Neighborhood Watch Program. Attendees can learn tips about improving outdoor lighting, enter drawings and other activities.

National Night Out sponsors include Target, Kiwanis, Merced Irrigation District, Merced Zoo Society, Merced Mall and the city of Merced. For more information about the National Night Out program visit www.nationalnightout.org. For local National Night Out event information, please contact Lindsey Johnson at (209) 385-6855.