GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — If you saw many people gathering in your neighborhood Tuesday evening, there was a purpose.
It was part of the National Night Out event in Green Bay and communities across the country.
National Night Out is an evening full of food, live music, and perhaps most importantly, a time for local neighbors to come together, discuss neighborhood issues, and build relationships with police and firefighters.
"Just brings joy to the community," Green Bay neighbor Heather Zeuske said.
In a neighborhood, people might live close to one another, but often not see one another.
It's the exact reason why people are gathering at Mather Heights Park in Green Bay.
"It's just nice to get people out of their homes, and not just hitting the garage door open button and not seeing neighbors at all," Green Bay neighbor Joe Watermolen said.
Neighbors are here for the cameraderie.
"It seems like in today's society, we've really lost that," Green Bay Police Lt. Steve Mahoney said.
Or perhaps talk about what they want to see in their community.
"Just more public things to bring people out," Watermolen said.
"More police presence, more fire department presence," Zeuske said. "They're really there for us."
Mahoney says the police try to be there and do as much as they can.
"The most important thing we're doing is listening," Mahoney said.
But knows they can't always do it alone.
"We really need the community's support," Mahoney said. "And that's where by bringing everyone out, in theory, that will help solve the problem."
It's a night where firefighters, police officers, and Green Bay's mayor learn more about their fellow citizens.
"When people know their neighbors, when they understand their neighborhoods, when they know they can pick up the phone or stop next door to communicate with somebody, that just improves the quality of life for everybody," Mayor Eric Genrich said.
And a night where fellow neighbors can enjoy one another's company.
"I need to support the neighborhood," Watermolen said. "And I think 90,000 other people do also."
The annual event took place at six different locations throughout Green Bay on Tuesday, including Mather Heights Park.
National Night Out was introduced in August of 1984 amongest communities and law enforcement agencies.
According to its website, the inaugural National Night Out event involved 2.5 million people across 400 communities in 23 states.
The campaign says today, more than 38 million people across 16,000 communities in all 50 states participate in the annual event.