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Southwest county communities gear up for National Night Out

A handful of communities in the southwest section of Baltimore County, including Halethorpe and Catonsville Manor, are participating in National Night Out on the evening of Aug. 7.

National Night Out is aimed at building community and connecting residents with law enforcement and local leaders. According to the National Night Out website, the event makes communities “safer, more caring places to live.”

The Catonsville Manor event is scheduled from 6 to 8:45 p.m. in the 1100 block of Dorchester Avenue, according to Kitty Honaker, president of the Catonsville Manor Community Association. The evening will feature more than a dozen vendors, a clown and dessert for anyone who turns out.

Officer Jennifer Peach, a public relations officer with Baltimore County Police Department, said the police force is “very much in favor” of National Night Out events.

“This gives us an opportunity to get out there, let people see us, to speak to us, to see us as human beings,” she said.

The children’s activities and games that are at many National Night Out events are an added bonus, Peach said, because they are “great for us to work on fostering relationships with neighborhood kids, so they aren’t afraid of us.”

Bonnie Winstead, head of the Catonsville Manor Citizens on Patrol group, said about 35 area residents either patrol with the group or watch their blocks from inside for suspicious activity.

“You just kind of like keep an eye on people, especially the elderly, to make sure everybody stays safe,” Winstead said. “We don’t confront anything; all we do is look listen and call 911 when we need them.”

In the Paradise area of Catonsville, the Paradise/Dunmore Citizens on Patrol is hosting a National Night Out event from 6 to 8 p.m. at Emanuel United Methodist Church, 6517 Frederick Road.

Organizers said the event will include grilled food, including hot dogs, and children’s activities.

The Halethorpe community is partnering with Vehicles for Change, a local nonprofit that awards low-cost cars to low-income families, to host a National Night Out event from 6 to 8 p.m. at 1900 Northeast Ave.

Families can register on-site for a free oil change certificate, and live music will be provided by Loose Change, a Lothian-based band.

“I feel safe, and I think most people feel safe there,” said Mike McAuliffe, president of the Halethorpe Improvement Association. “I won’t live in a neighborhood that doesn’t feel safe.”

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