National Night Out

Herald-Standard

In this file photo from 2015, Uniontown police Capt. David Rutter speaks about building cooperation between the police and neighborhood residents during the National Night Out program at the East End United Community Center in Uniontown.

Two Uniontown neighborhoods will be joining communities across the country by hosting National Night Out events next month.

National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign started in 1984 that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live.

Always held on the first Tuesday in August, this year’s event is expected to include 16,000 communities across the United States and 179 in Pennsylvania holding various activities.

Last year, the National Night Out event hosted by the East End United Community Center (EEUCC) was modified to be virtual due to the pandemic.

Its annual version of the event, called “Hoops and Scoops, includes a free-throw contest and ice cream.

“It’s very hard to run an event that centers around shooting hoops and eating ice cream remotely,” said Steve Strange, the EUCC interim executive director. “So it’s great that National Night Out will be returning to its regular in-person format this year.”

The free event will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 3 at the YMCA and will include a free-throw contest for those aged 6 to 17, senior hoops for those 55 and older, as well as music, prizes, T-shirts and, of course, ice cream.

“Marlene Kolosky, who ran National Night Out events in our area in previous years and has been instrumental in organizing this year’s event, is very adamant about staying true to the basketball and ice cream foundation,” Strange said.

Deputies representing the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department along with Laurel Highlands Cheerleading Coach Janae Kopec and cheerleaders and EMS workers will attend. DJ Kirk ALERT will provide music.

“All of these components should provide a really fun time that facilitates community involvement,” Strange said, adding that such events are important for neighborhoods. “These types of get-togethers provide good, clean fun, and help people acknowledge that we all have more in common than we often realize.”

Nicole Barak, through the Fayette County Behavioral Health Administration, was able to generate $3,000 to fund this year’s event, which he said is expected to bring in 200 people, according to Strange.

Also in Uniontown, Ramona Reeve, founder of the SKW Foundation, said the foundation will host a National Night Out block party from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 3 along Austin Street, between Collins Avenue and Coolspring Street.

Reeves said activities will include a DJ, bouncy house, various agencies with tables and literature and activities for children, vendors, face painting and free hot dogs, drinks and chips to enjoy.

“Pretty much just come out and have a good time,” Reeves said, adding there will be speakers as well.

Officers from the Uniontown City Police, Pennsylvania State Police and the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department will participate.

“We want people in the area to know the police are not out to get you and are here to help,” Reeves said, wanting the event to be something that brings together the community and law enforcement. “We’re hoping to build a rapport with law enforcement so when we have shootings, we’ll have people willing to come forth.”

Reeves said this will be the first time her organization has hosted a National Night Out event, as it will further the foundation’s goal of addressing gun violence and its aftermath.

Reeves said they will also address drug overdoses and violence in the area.

“We want to have a better community,” she said.

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