MASON CITY — The 36th annual National Night Out will be celebrated tonight in Mason City.

Mason City police chief Jeff Brinkley says that the annual crime and drug prevention event promotes a partnership with the policing community. “The idea is that we are coming together to make a stance against crime and drugs and neighborhood problems and those kinds of things. There are going to be almost a hundred things to do there, there’s just oodles and oodles of opportunities for families. We’ll have all kinds of service agencies from the community that are resources for kids and families in those kinds of things. We’ve got free food, hot dogs and chips and bottled water. We will be giving away a bunch of prizes, some bikes and trikes and scooters, and we’ll have a plethora of display items. Hopefully we’re going to get the new MercyOne chopper there. We’re going to have police car/squad car tours from all kinds of law enforcement agencies.”

Brinkley says it’s an opportunity for law enforcement to make a positive connection with families, especially kids. “The narrative nationally right now isn’t good for police. We’ve been trying to turn that around…in Iowa it’s different, but I think you know we’ve got to work on that every day. We hope this is a chance for kids, families, the whole community to have an opportunity to interact with us, in an opportunity that’s positive. There’s no cost, come have a good time, we’ll have all kinds of officers that will take pictures, those kinds of things, share that out. We’re really looking forward to the chance to have a lot of smiles, a lot of high fives and all the all the fun that goes with that.”

Brinkley says they’ll be bringing in the “What You Don’t See” trailer put together by the Iowa Narcotics Officers Association. It’s specifically put together for parents and educators who might not always be up to speed on the teen culture.  “It’s set up like a kid’s bedroom, and there’s a bunch of different things in there that are part of the drug and subculture that goes with drug abuse and substance use and abuse. We have parents and teachers walk through that, make their observations, and then when you’re done we sit down with them for a couple minutes and say ‘hey, what did you see?’, and then we give some information says here’s what you didn’t see, and these are other things that you saw in plain sight in this room that are that are part of culture that you need to know, you need to talk to kids when you see these kind of things and help them make good choices and good decisions that result in a happy lifestyle.”

The event runs from 5:00 to 8:00 PM in the All-Seasons Building at the North Iowa Events Center. National Night Out events are also taking place in Charles City, Forest City, and Lake Mills tonight.