HANAU, Germany — Four U.S. military communities in Europe are being recognized by the National Association of Town Watch for an annual event that promotes community crime prevention.

European-based communities being honored for their 2005 “National Night Out” events are: U.S. Army Garrison Hessen, Hanau, Germany; 6th Area Support Team, Garmisch, Germany; Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland; and Naval Air Station, Sigonella, Italy.

The National Association of Town Watch is a crime-prevention outfit that works with law enforcement agencies and thousands of community-watch groups to bolster crime-fighting efforts. The association has a partnership with the U.S. Justice Department.

Initiated in 1984, the annual “National Night Out” campaign has evolved from front porch vigils to include neighborhood walks, safety fairs, block parties, festivals and parades, according to the organization’s Web site.

More than 34 million people in 10,000 communities are estimated to take part in the yearly observance. Traditionally, the event is held on the first Tuesday in August, though some communities adjust the date to suit local needs. The 23rd annual National Night Out is scheduled for Aug. 1, 2006.

Compared to the previous year, the Aug. 25, 2005, event in Hanau “was much more involved,” said Bianca Moton, manager of the Hanau USO, which co-sponsored the event. “There were a lot of things that attracted people.”

The August 2005 gathering in Hanau drew about 1,000 people, Moton said.

It featured programs on crime prevention and safety, and members of the Hanau military community enjoyed food, drinks and various other activities, from riding a mechanical bull to folk dancing. Military police also operated a booth that offered identification kits for kids.

And at NAS Keflavik, Navy and Air Force law enforcement agencies teamed up to hold their event in a hanger on base. There was McGruff the Crime Dog, a bike raffle for kids (nine were given away), a static display of military equipment and an assortment of booths, displays and attractions.

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