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Neighbors In Hollywood Connect During 'America's Night Out Against Crime'

'National Night Out' is an annual campaign that encourages people to get to know their neighbors, police and city officials - and organize against crime. 

In Hollywood, that looked like 13 block parties on the same night, all hosted by civic associations.

"Rain or shine it doesn't matter - we need more community involvement," Pam Burgio said. 


Burgio is the president of the Hollywood Hills Civic Association. She helped organize the association's 'Night Out' gathering in Sal Oliveri and Veterans Park Tuesday night, which narrowly missed the rain.

Burgio said she was especially glad this week that people came to be together. A few dozen gathered under a pavilion for free pizza, and to talk to city officials and each other.

"I can't turn on the news without fearing for myself," she said. "And with everything that's going on right now, it's unfortunate. So tonight is a good point - if we form a community, we form a stronger bond."


National Night Out Hollywood
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN
Neighbors gather with Hollywood Police at Sal Oliveri and Veterans Park Tuesday night for a National Night Out.

The 'National Night Out' campaign is designed to encourage police-community partnerships. Hollywood's Assistant Chief of Police, David Strauss, said it’s a more "fun" take on a normal community meeting.

"It’s another time to interact with the community," he said. "They always talk to us about their concerns, because they get a little face-to-face time, but we also bring all the gifts." 

The police-themed pens, mini badges, and bubbles were a hit with some of the kids. 

Volunteers from the activist group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America were also at the gathering. Several women from the neighborhood came and set up a picnic table at the park. 

"I feel very much a part of the community, my son is in school here," volunteer Christina Bontempo said. "And if I can be any part of helping curb, gun violence in my own community I'm happy to do it."

Bontempo handed out free gun locks to her own neighbors from Hollywood Hills. The locks are a part of Moms Demand Action's 'Be SMART' campaign to promote responsible gun ownership. 

Farther east at Stanley Goldman Memorial Park, three civic associations, plus the United Neighbors of Central Hollywood, pooled their 'National Night Out' parties into one. Along with dogs, plenty of extra hot dogs and face-painting - people met with Hollywood city commissioners and brought their concerns to law enforcement.

Lynn Smith is president of the Downtown Parkside Royal Poinciana Civic Association. She said it's Hollywood's history - and people - that make her love living here and getting involved. 

"It's not just one night a year, but it's very many nights a year that we all are together," Smith said. "And I love that."


National Night Out Hollywood
Credit Caitie Switalski / WLRN
Neighbors gathered at Stanley Goldman Memorial Park from three different civic asociations Tuesday night.

Caitie Muñoz, formerly Switalski, leads the WLRN Newsroom as Director of Daily News & Original Live Programming. Previously she reported on news and stories concerning quality of life in Broward County and its municipalities for WLRN News.
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