Glendale police officials mingle with residents during the inaugural year of neighborhood-organized National Night Out.

Glendale police officials mingle with residents during the inaugural year of neighborhood-organized National Night Out. (Times Community News / July 13, 2012)

This year’s National Night Out — that time when residents across the U.S. express solidarity against crime — will move beyond barbecues and carnival games in Glendale.

Think outdoor movie screenings, food trucks and other fare. In short, this is not your mother’s National Night Out.

Residents have begun creating fliers, securing food trucks and rallying their neighbors in preparation to host community events for the citywide event on Aug. 7.

Police officials are hoping participation and turnout increases this year as it has for past years. Last year’s annual event drew 44 community-organized festivities, nearly double the 25 gatherings in 2010, Glendale Police Sgt. John Gilkerson said.

The community events are “a big priority for the city,” he said, adding that even City Council cancels its weekly meeting that day to attend the festivities.

As the number of events have increased, so has the complexity and entertainment value.

Residents in the Royal Boulevard neighborhood are booking two food trucks — one serving savory treats, the other dishing up desserts.

Stephanie Kindelberger and members of the Rossmoyne Mountain Homeowners Assn. will host a screening of “Puss in Boots.”

Other neighborhoods will host ice cream socials and potlucks.

National Night Out was established in 1984, with 400 communities in 23 states. More than 37 million people worldwide have participated, according to the event's website.

Until 2008, the Glendale Police Department carried the burden of hosting an annual event for residents citywide. That changed when officials decided it would be best for residents to organize their own National Night Out events to encourage neighborhood connections.

“The idea wasn’t for us to put on a whole event for the city to come to,” Gilkerson said.

At the neighborhood level, residents can get to know their neighbors, talk about issues affecting their area and organize watch groups. Firefighters, police and city officials also visit the community events.

Some residents get donations, including gift certificates, gift baskets and supplies, to support their events.

“This is a great excuse to get together,” Officer Matt Zakarian said. “A lot of neighborhoods don’t get together. We are pushing to make that happen.”

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