LA CROSSE, Wis. -

Millions across the U.S. took part in the annual National Night Out Block Party on Tuesday, including La Crosse.

While the event only lasts a couple of hours, organizers hope people will use that time to learn more about their community and work to protect it.

Sister Ladonna Kassmeyer knows what it takes to throw a big neighborhood party.
“Well, we've done it quite a few years,” said Kassmeyer.

Fifteen years to be exact, and for this year's block party at Viterbo University, she's expecting their biggest crowd to date -- 260 people.

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“We usually run about 230, so we've got a full house coming,” said Kassmeyer.

The national event is a chance for people to meet and get to know their neighbors in hopes of promoting safe communities.

“Well, I think just being aware of your neighbors and kind of watching out for your neighbors and watching out for things in the neighborhood that are unusual, and getting the police the police involved, so I think it's been good going,” said Kassmeyer.

“I think sometimes we lose that touch with our neighborhoods out there, with people knowing their neighbors, so it's critical that you know your neighbors out there, so you know what's going on,” said Lt. Pat Hogan of the La Crosse Police Department.

In 2012, four homicides devastated La Crosse.

So far this year, police also conducted a handful of drug busts.

Hogan said knowing your neighbors plays a great part in helping deter and solve crimes.

“Most crimes that we solve, it's usually credit to the community,” said Hogan. “The community, including our neighborhood watch groups, are the eyes and ears of the police department out there.”

The event only lasts for a couple of hours, but Kassmeyer hopes that time will create a lasting impact.

“The more we can get our youth and our adults involved in the neighborhood, the better off we are,” said Kassmeyer.

This is the 16th year La Crosse has taken part in the national event.

Surrounding communities including Onalaska, Sparta and Tomah also held block parties Tuesday night.