National Night Out starts at 6 p.m. at the Zoo in Applegate Park; free rides and hot dogs

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

The event will start at 6 p.m. and end at 8 p.m. Food, fun, and education will be plentiful. 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 being 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,” said Police Chief Norman Andrade. 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, the city said in a news 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,” noted City Manager John Bramble. National Night Out is the perfect stage 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 maybe fulfill that childhood dream of flicking a siren switch, the news release continued.

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