PORTLAND — A procession of more than 40 adults, children and police officers, holding signs that said National Night Out, made its way through Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood Tuesday night.

It was a march to show criminals that the neighborhood stands united against crime and supports drug prevention awareness.

The parade ended at Peppermint Park on Cumberland Avenue with a community barbecue and a speech by the local historian Herb Adams.

“This is a good way to show the children that the neighborhood they live in is safe,” said Ann Marie Tucker, who brought her five children to the event. “I’d also like my kids to see that there is a sense of community here.”

The 28th annual National Night Out campaign was held in cities and towns across the country on Tuesday. Events included block parties, cookouts, visits by police and sheriff’s departments, and flashlight walks. Residents everywhere were encouraged to lock their doors, turn on outdoor lights, and spend the evening visiting with their neighbors.

Stephen Black, Portland’s senior lead police officer for East Bayside, views National Night Out as a way to strengthen the partnership between police and the community.

Black, who has worked in East Bayside for 12 years, said, “Everyone knows me. I walk down the street now and the kids smile and say, ‘Hello Officer Black.’“

“It’s really a great way for our neighborhood to meet each other in a fun atmosphere,” said Blainor McGough, director of the Mayo Street Arts Center, where the parade began.

As the parade passed homes on Mayo, East Oxford, Madison and Anderson streets, dozens of people – mostly immigrants – stepped onto their front porches to wave or say hello.

Adams said East Bayside is one of Portland’s most racially diverse neighborhoods – a fact he noted in his speech at the park.

Adams described East Bayside’s rich history, dating back to World War II, when the neighborhood was a thriving center of commerce and employment.

Workers built bearings and other gadgets around the clock for the Navy at the Portland Stove Foundry. Portland Pottery Works, which operated near the site of the Hannaford supermarket, was another major employer.

The neighborhood was home to hundreds of Danish and Italian immigrants, Adams said. “Our new neighbors are Congolese and Sudanese, no different than the Danes and Italians who lived here more than 60 years ago,” he said.


Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]