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National Night Out Brings Neighbors Together

POSTED August 10, 2010 6:35 p.m.
The annual National Night Out event Tuesday, Aug. 3 brought neighbors together in an atmosphere of family-friendly fun and camaraderie that included food, games, animals, and cars — depending on where you ended up. as there were multiple block parties throughout the city from The Estates on Atlas Road to Bridle Ridge on the west end of town.

Brea DeRespini, Community Volunteer Coordinator, called the night a “huge success” with 850 hot dogs served, both fire and police personnel making appearances at The Estates, Burchell Hill, and Bridle Ridge events.

“Both the fire department and the police department showed their support at the events and were a key element in helping to make National Night Out a huge success in bringing the community and the departments together to celebrate partnership,” DeRespini said.

According to DeRespini, Bridle Ridge had about 400 people while Burchell had approximately 600 but there were also smaller gatherings such as on Willow Glen that hosted neighborhood gatherings for the evening.

Con Agra donated more than $2,000 worth of canned goods; Fastenal donated 1,500 bottles of water; City Heat donated the limousine that gave McGruff the Crime Dog a stylish ride to each of the locations; Oakdale Country Club donated four rounds of golf, just to name a few of the donated goods and services.

Countless hours went into the planning of the event but the reward for all that hard work seemed evident in the smiles from residents as they chatted with neighbors, enjoyed good food and fellowship while children played safely in the park.

“Thank you so much to the committee members who worked numerous hours to make this event a success and a safe night out filled with important information for our community members,” DeRespini said. “Without these dedicated community members these great events could not have happened.”

For some residents, the event was a great opportunity to enjoy the summer evening with people they knew and people they wanted to get to know for purpose of knowing their neighbors.

In the case of The Estates get together, coordinators Carol Huggins and Ronda Nunes wanted to activate a Neighborhood Watch program to help stem the rash of vandalism and burglaries that had erupted in the country area of Oakdale. With the assistance of Community Service Officer Mike Hancock, The Estates Neighborhood Watch was born and they’ve become an active group that meets every other month with law enforcement often stopping in to visit and chat about current issues.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet your neighbors and become more aware of things around you,” said Huggins.

At the National Night Out event, Huggins said, “It’s really fun. I’ve met people I didn’t realize lived in the neighborhood.”

Police Chief Marty West said of the turnout for the evening, “I’m very happy. It really turned out nice. The Neighborhood Watch is really important in light of what’s happening with local government and the lay-offs. There’s something for everyone to do and I’m glad to see people staying involved. When there is community cohesiveness, there is less opportunity for crime.”

Linda Johanson, one of the coordinators for the Burchell Hill Park event, said, “It took six months of planning but the response has been overwhelming. We’re pleased beyond words how many in the neighborhood showed up.”

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