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National Night Out kick-off party this year to be staged in Sunnyside

Sunnyside Police Officer Chico Rodriguez was the featured guest speaker at this morning's Sunnyside Kiwanis Club meeting, explaining the city's participation in the national National Night Out observance.

According to Rodriguez, Sunnyside will be the host for the Lower Valley kick-off this year, in which Granger, Grandview, Mabton, Zillah, Toppenish and the Yakama Nation will be invited.

The goal of the event, he said, is four-fold: two heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for anti-crime programs on a local level, strengthen neighborhoods and send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

"Basically, it's uniting law enforcement and communities together to combat crime in our neighborhoods," Rodriguez said.

He said the goal of the Sunnyside Police Department for quite some time has been to get back to where the community is a safe haven. He said after an influx of gang activity in the 1990's, "People were scared to come outdoors and even have a barbecue in their yards."

The kick-off party will take place on Monday, Aug. 4, at Central Park.

"We've invited over 75 organizations to take part and that's just the start of it," he said. Fiesta Foods has already donated 5,000 hot dogs for the event.

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