Walla Walla Valley residents will be part of millions across the nation Tuesday celebrating community-building, neighborhood camaraderie, and police-community partnerships on Tuesday.

The annual crime-prevention event, National Night Out, has roots in the 1970s but started more recently in Walla Walla, Dayton, Milton-Freewater, and other area towns. The free events include exhibits, parades, vendors and more.

The Walla Walla Police Department Crime Prevention Unit will commemorate its 13th annual event from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at Pioneer Park, 940 E. Alder St. Besides WWPD, the College Place Police Department, Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office, and other Valley emergency departments are part of the tradition, CPPD event coordinator and records supervisor, Marianne Barr, said. 

The joint force event was crucial, she said. 

“It’s about developing relationships and building trust … It shows that we’re people, too,” Barr said.

Highlights include an emergency service vehicle parade, free hot dogs, courtesy of Banner Bank, Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen, pizza from Domino’s Pizza, and Pepsi drinks, and a raffle for backpacks with school supplies, according to a WWPD release. Forty vendors also will be on hand with various information, games and freebies. 

The parade steps off at Pleasant Street and Sturm Avenue, turns right on Fern Avenue, left on Whitman Street, right on Division Street, right on Alder Street, and ends on Sasayama Drive. 

“We have the largest and perhaps the only emergency services parade in the region” to lead off the event, WWPD Crime Prevention Coordinator Vicki Ruley wrote in an email. 

Limited parking is available in the garden center on Alder Street for seniors and those with disabilities. 

In Dayton, the city 12th annual Night Out event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at Pietrzycki City Park, at the end of South First and Second streets. About 1,000 people attended last year’s event, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office release. Tuesday’s event includes free hot dogs, courtesy of Banner Bank and served by Dayton Kiwanis and Lion’s clubs and others; free soda from Pepsi; and bottled water courtesy of Puget Sound Energy. Other happenings include Life Flight and National Guard Lakota helicopters flying in for display; child fingerprinting and videotaping for emergency response identification packets; displays of the CCSO jet boat, a fire truck, ambulance, and tow truck; children’s games and activities; and a free movie at 9 p.m. in the park, courtesy of Blue Mountain Counseling. In all, about 30 exhibits are anticipated, along with free drawings for prizes by various vendors. 

Animals are not allowed in the park, according to the Dayton City Public Works Department.

According to organizer and CCSO civil deputy Tim Quigg, the event is meant to do four things: Heighten crime- and drug-prevention awareness; build support for and participation in anti-crime efforts; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals “that neighborhoods are

organized and fighting back.” 

Milton-Freewater’s third annual Night Out begins at 6 p.m. in Yantis Park, 210 De Haven St.

Organizer and Milton-Freewater Library Assistant Lili Schmidt said it gives residents an opportunity to meet city officials and “spend time with their families, eating, playing, and laughing,” she wrote in an email. She said last year more than 200 people attended.

Iron Man, Spiderman, Wonder Woman, Tinkerbell, and Moana from Royalty Princess and Character Parties will pay a visit. 

Also on hand will be a police car and fire, garbage and bucket trucks for people to tour, as well as free food and children’s games. Public Works Department workers also will give information about the city’s upcoming Parks and Recreation facility master plan, Schmidt said. 

Emily Thornton can be reached at emilythornton@wwub.com or 509-526-8325.

Emily Thornton covers courts and emergency services, as well as other various stories. She has been in the newspaper industry off and on since roughly 1999 and lived primarily on the West Coast, but also Florida and Europe.

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