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Rain moves National Night Out

Faced with a dreary Tuesday forecast, local law-enforcement officials have postponed the National Night Out celebration scheduled from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. today at Beebe Memorial Park on North Bridge Street in Washington.

The event has been rescheduled for the same time and location Aug. 14.

“The weather is forecasted at 60-percent rain. They’re saying thunderstorms,” said Kimberly Grimes, Washington Police-Fire Department’s community-outreach coordinator. “We’re just going to be on the safe side.”

Designated a “night out from crime” for cities nationwide, local officials have planned a neighborhood block party, inviting the public to come out for food, competition and a chance to meet the uniformed officers with various agencies and learn more about what they do.

In addition to DJ Ashley spinning the latest hits and bicycle helmets for the winners of backflip, jump-rope, coloring, long-jump and hula-hooping contests, a cash prize will be handed out for the winning entry in the “I think my parent(s) are the greatest because …” essay contest.

Uniformed patrol officers will man a dunking booth and test the throwing skills of neighborhood children.

The block party is not all about fun, however. It’s also about safety.

Washington fire Chief Robbie Rose said the Beaufort County Fireman’s Association’s Kids Safety House will be on site. The small-scale house, complete with a second story, shows children how to escape from a house fire, within a controlled environment. As smoke fills a room, children are taught to get down low and crawl as well as figure out their options.

“It really train kids primarily in planning and implementing escape routes,” said Rose.

The Washington Police Department also plans to launch a new program at the event — one designed to protect bicycle owners. Children are invited to register their bicycles’ serial numbers with police and have their pictures taken with their bikes to make identification easier if they’re ever stolen.

“If adults want to register too, by all means they can do it as well,” said Grimes. “Anyone who has a bike and wants to register that bike with the WPD — we’re happy to do that.”

National Night Out is a yearly event designed to “promote neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships in the fight for a safer nation,” by spotlighting drug-prevention and crime-awareness anticrime programs. It also sends the message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back, according to the National Night Out website.

Individuals and businesses are encouraged to participate by turning on outdoor lights on National Night Out and taking part in front porch vigils.

According to the NNO website, more than 15,000 communities, roughly 37 million people, from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide took part in the event in 2011.

National Night Out is sponsored by Washington Police-Fire Department, Beaufort County Crime Stoppers, Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and Washington Housing Authority. For information about sponsoring, donating to or volunteering for National Night Out, call Kimberly Grimes at 252-943-1715.