Capitol Hill resident Kelsey Fernkopf says his neighborhood has a strong sense of community. He knows most of his neighbors who live near 11th Avenue and Denny Way, but wants to be able to put more names to more faces.
He got that chance Tuesday at his block’s celebration of Night Out Against Crime, a national crime-prevention event designed to promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood unity. A record 1,427 Seattle blocks signed up this year, an increase from 1,366 last year, according to the Seattle Police Department.
For 29 years, Seattle neighborhoods have closed streets for Night Out celebrations, according to Shanna Christie of the Seattle Police Department. The size and celebrations vary. A Wallingford block party included a drum circle, while the Low Income Housing Institute party on Harrison Street gave out free school supplies and ice cream.
The attendees of the 11th and Denny Night Out got to enjoy a dance party and grill out. The block party unites the community, Fernkopf said, which can help decrease crime.
“I think that ties in with the crime prevention, knowing who is in your neighborhood and knowing your neighbors,” Fernkopf said.
Multiple violent crimes have occurred on Capitol Hill in the past few weeks, according to Seattle police. A man was attacked shortly after midnight Monday near the 200 block of Summit Avenue East apparently because of his sexual orientation. On July 15, a 19-year-old man shot another 19-year-old man at 10th Avenue and Pine Street.
Capitol Hill has always “had an edge,” but residents on his block feel safe, Fernkopf said.
“People are cautious, because there’s been a lot of trouble,” said Brad Trenary, who has lived on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years.
As he socialized with other residents, Trenary’s partner, Mike Darr, said the block party was a way to help residents know who belongs in their neighborhood and who doesn’t.
“This helps build community,” Darr said.
National Night Out began in 1984 and now involves more than 37 million people in 15,000 neighborhoods in the U.S. and Canada. Though it’s a national event, neighborhoods get to localize its crime-prevention efforts, Christie said.
“It’s just kind of neat to think about 1,400 different blocks that have taken the time to register,” Christie said. “It’s a way of showing how many people care about their neighborhood in one night.”