Long Beach launches its third annual Summer Night Lights program Monday evening. The anti-gang program, similar to one in Los Angeles, helps to keep kids busy and off the streets.
Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Drake Park and Admiral Kidd Park are the only participating parks at the moment. They'll stay open until 9 p.m.
Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell said the parks offer free food, games and other activities. “There’s a healthy supper program where they feed kids who come to the event. They have performing arts, cultural activities, talent classes, all kinds of sports, Zumba classes.”
McDonnell says crime in the areas around those parks has dropped a bit when the night lights stay on.“We have the ability with two officers in each park to be able to provide a higher level than normal of service and visibility. And hopefully the big benefit is the relationships built and the ability to be able to talk to the leaders of the future, and to be able to develop perspectives — relationships that are a positive long-term.”
Last year, McDonnell says, more than 15,000 youth participated in the Summer Night Lights program. He’d like to see the program get expanded if more funds become available.
Long Beach’s Summer Night Lights runs through August 31.