South Charlotte

Madison Park to host 8th night out event

Madison Park's large-scale block party Aug. 2 is historically the largest National Night Out event in the city.

Started 28 years ago by the National Association of Town Watch, the event brings neighbors and community police officers together for a night of food and attractions.

The idea is to foster relationships between neighbors, build police-community partnerships and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organizing to prevent crime.

More than 37 million people nationwide participated in 2010.

This is Madison Park's eighth National Night Out event, and they're planning for a crowd of at least 1,000 from 6-9 p.m.

"Every year it seems to get larger and larger," said Madison Park Homeowners' Association President Martin Doss, who orchestrates the event.

There will be inflatables, trackless trains and a number of water attractions for attendees.

There will also be belly-dancers, a brass band, a marching drill team and an award-winning senior African-drummer group from the YMCA, with members in their late 50s to mid-80s.

"There's something for everybody, even if you don't want to get wet," said Doss.

The majority of the attractions and food is free.

Doss has worked on the event since cleanup last year.

Though the annual neighborhood party is mostly for residents, Doss said friends and family of Madison Park residents come from across the city.

"We had people from Matthews and Cotswold, even from Fort Mill, Rock Hill," said Doss. "Not that we're encouraging that, (but) we don't mind people from the neighborhood inviting (others)."

The success and scale of the event depends largely on sponsors, which Doss is always trying to secure.

Target, the only national sponsor, donated nearly $600 in gift cards to the HOA, which Doss used to buy food for the event.

There are also 25 to 30 Target employees who've volunteered to help.

Other sponsors include: Showmars, Toppers Pizza, Autobell, Liberty Mutual, Western & Southern Life, dentist Dr. Emele Ferrara (an area dentist), Your Event Source, and Rent@MeUSA.Rain or shine, the event will be held on Fairbanks Road, between Wedgewood Drive and Valleyforge Road. Fairbanks Road will be closed noon-5 p.m. Aug. 2 for set-up.

Most entertainers will perform on a stage near the Wedgewood intersection.

Madison Park will host a small promotional parade, 7-8 p.m. Aug. 1.