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Cottage Grove, Newport and St. Paul Park celebrate Night to Unite and National Night Out tonight

Fire up the grill and break out the brats: the annual National Night Out and Night to Unite is here again.

Neighbors in Cottage Grove, Newport and St. Paul Park will gather Tuesday, Aug. 7, to celebrate the annual event targeted at fostering community dialogue and building relationships between citizens and police to help fight crime.

In Cottage Grove, city officials and public safety personnel will fan out across the city to meet with and talk to residents at dozens of neighborhood Night to Unite block parties held in driveways, closed-off streets and city parks.

Parties that register with the city by the end of the day Wednesday, Aug. 1, will ensure a visit from city or police and fire officials and receive a party kit that includes free balloons and other party giveaways.

The city encourages block parties to participate in the Fill the Backpack campaign that collects school supplies for underprivileged area children. New this year is an effort to collect diapers and other baby supplies for Tubman, a domestic violence victim support organization. Officials also introduced a Night to Unite coloring contest this year.

Newport will hold its annual city-wide Night to Unite event from 6:30-8 p.m. at Newport Lutheran Church, 900 15th St., for a barbecue, music, games for kids, police and fire displays. Attendees are encouraged to donate cash and perishable food items to the Friends in Need Food Shelf in St. Paul Park.

In St. Paul Park, the city will celebrate National Night Out from 6-8 p.m. at Heritage Park, located at Portland and 13th avenues, with family-geared food, public safety displayes and entertainment.