In an urban area known for considerable participation in National Night Out, a crime and drug awareness and prevention event, the 28th rendition on Tuesday night will mark the first time for residents of at least one block in south Minneapolis.

CRIME FIGHTING, GOOD EATS SERVED

The traditional "lights on,'' front-porch vigils and police visits remain a major part of the program celebrated in all 50 states on the first Tuesday of every August. Locally, it's grown to include parades, festivals (Abbott Avenue in Linden Hills promises a Mexican fiesta), cookouts and elaborate block parties -- all in the name of fighting crime.

Brooklyn Center didn't wait. It held a kickoff to National Night Out on Monday night at Centennial Park.

NEAR THE TOP OF THE 'NIGHT OUT' LIST

Last year San Antonio beat Minneapolis for the No. 1 spot in National Night Out participation for large cities, according to the National Association of Town Watch's rankings. Minneapolis, which has led cities with at least 300,000 residents for seven of the last nine years, was second. St. Paul placed first in the mid-sized city category, and six other cities in the state earned spots on the list.

No car required

With 1,133 National Night Out events registered (100 more than last year) in Minneapolis and three-fourths of them blocking traffic, there's a good chance your residential street will be barricaded. St. Paul has 275 registered events, about the same as last year, and more than half are expected to block traffic.

Get to know your neighbors

Minnesota provides block leader training in police precincts across the state as part of a strategy to increase community engagement and enlist help in fighting crime. In addition to action alerts, block leaders receive police reports for crimes that occur within a one-tenth-mile radius of their homes and share the information with their neighbors.

In Armatage, where there are 36 organized events, there are also leaders on nearly every block of the neighborhood. The 6000 block of Morgan Avenue S., which recently formed a new block club, will recognize National Night Out for the first time.

Pushing drugs -- for disposal

Some jurisdictions have specific themes. The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office is promoting prevention of medication abuse. It plans to have representatives at more than 70 events in 22 communities, including Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Greenfield and New Hope.

Tasnim Shamma • 612-673-7603 • Twitter: @TasnimS