By Sean Bowes

It is a great thing to see neighborhoods unite with each other for a good cause, and few communities pull together with as much class, and even flash, as those in the New Tampa area. On August 3, at least three local communities participated in the 28th annual “National Night Out Against Crime” event to strengthen neighborhood spirit, and take a stand against criminal activity in our area.

Hunter’s Green, Ashmont in Tampa Palms and Grand Hampton were among the communities to have their own unique “Night Out” events. Each of the separate “Nights” welcomed local law enforcement officers and firefighters who joined in on the festivities.

Ashmont, the smallest community in Tampa Palms with only 26 homes, enjoyed a small gathering of neighbors to enjoy food and drinks outside one of the resident’s homes. The neighbors were joined by officers from the Tampa Police Department (TPD), who stressed the importance of the community’s involvement for reducing crimes in the area.

“Many of the crimes that take place in Tampa are solved by neighbors pointing us in the right direction,” said TPD Officer Al Burgos. “We are here to build a good relationship with everyone here.”

Karen Marker, the organizer for Ashmont’s Neighborhood Watch program said their community became more involved after burglars vandalized one of her neighbor’s homes. Now, she says, the neighborhood is much more tight-knit.

“We really watch out for each other, and see who is coming into and leaving the neighborhood,” said Marker.

At Hunter’s Green, the festivities, as always, looked more like a fair or a carnival than a Neighborhood Watch event. The community of 1,550 households is well-known for annually having one of the largest “Night Out” events in the Tampa Bay area. James Lombardi, organizer for Hunter’s Green’s Community-Wide Neighborhood Watch program, was happy with the turnout of around 500 residents.

Joining the residents in Hunter’s Green were representatives from TPD, the Tampa Fire Rescue Department (TFR), and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which brought fire trucks, police motorcycles and even a bomb squad robot. Hunter’s Green resident Scott Decker, the owner of Marco’s Pizza on Bruce B. Downs Blvd., gave away close to 800 slices.

“It’s just great to get the community out to an event like this and meet with the local fire fighters and police officers,” said Lombardi, “And, it’s an awesome event for the kids.”

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