National Night Out is an annual event that promotes partnerships between communities, residents and local law enforcement. Celebrations can range from individual block parties to a large community festival. Either way, it’s a great opportunity to create connections between neighbors and focus on working together to make your community in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin or San Antonio a safer, better place to live. 

For most of the country, this event is celebrated on the first Tuesday of August. However, Texas communities observe National Night Out on the first Tuesday of October to beat the heat of the summer. This year’s event will fall on October 4, 2016.

This national celebration has become an annual tradition in many communities far and wide. Plan, coordinate and host a National Night Out event in your association by using these tips below. Let’s get to planning!

Host a block party. 
Whether your association is hosting a community-wide event or not, block parties are the most common way to celebrate this festive affair. Often nostalgic, there’s nothing a little friendly potluck, great music and bean bag toss can’t do to strengthen the bond between neighbors. “The National Night Out Event has created a real sense of community bonding with our association and residents,” says Pete Willding, general manager of Bridlewood HOA, a three-time recipient of the City of Flower Mound, National Night Out Neighborhood of the Year award.

Keep in mind whether you’re hosting a block party to celebrate National Night Out or if you’re just planning something special to get chummier with your neighbors, most cities will require a permit. And it can sometimes take weeks to process. Be sure to set aside enough time to appropriately plan your party.

Partner with your city.
Since this is a national event promoting safer neighborhoods, we encourage you to reach out to your city. It should be no surprise to local officers and first responders when you contact them for support. And you will likely find they are happy to get involved. They may even agree to provide a police car or fire truck to showcase at the event for residents to tour. Some communities have been so lucky as to get a cameo from a Care Flight helicopter.

According to Willding, partnerships with both elementary and middle schools, as well as local law enforcement have helped turn their association’s National Night Out into an award-winning event. You can expect that your city will probably be prepared for the festivities with fun handouts such as candy, keychain flashlights, pens, beach balls and more. Each city is different, so be sure to ask about these when you ask for assistance and register for the event. Prizes of any sort are always a great way to generate excitement around your event.

When planning, also consider including your guests of honor in the games and activities. They may be “on the clock,” but in most cases they would appreciate a little fun in their day. These little details can make all the difference in the success of your event.

Connect with local businesses. 
Believe it or not, this is also a great time to reinforce those business-to-business relationships. Tap into local connections or make new ones, and ask for their help. Some companies will donate prizes and some will make a monetary donation; all you have to do is ask. Partnering with local businesses is a creative way to subsidize the cost and really stretch your budget dollars, while providing a memorable event for you and your neighbors.

Market the event.
The event is planned. Now how do you get people to attend? If your association is hosting an event for the community-at-large, marketing this event will probably look similar to other events you would host throughout the year. Short of paying for a skywriter, we have used every method under the sun to communicate event details to our homeowners. And we recommend using as many channels as you can to get the word out. Here are some of the most popular channels to consider:
  • Community newsletters or e-news
  • Bulletin boards posted near frequently used amenities
  • Advertise on the community website
  • Remind 101 or Evite
  • Marquis boards at the main entrances to the association
  • Direct mail: postcard/flyer
  • Post event details to social pages linked to the association

However, if you’ve chosen a more intimate get-together for your closest neighbors, marketing your event could be as simple as picking up the phone to call or text your neighbors with details. If there is a new homeowner, try taking the opportunity to welcome them to the neighborhood with an in-person, hand-delivered invitation.

Whether you’re a National Night Out veteran or if you’re new to the party (pun intended), this celebration is a great time for all ages. There is still plenty of time to plan an event for your community.  You can find more information and ideas for your celebration on the official National Night Out website. Click here to get started today.

Bridlewood is a four-time recipient of the City of Flower Mound, National Night Out Neighborhood of the Year award.  

Wednesday September 14, 2016