National Night Out gave the Oakdale community a reason to come together on Tuesday, Aug. 7. The smoke in the air, though regularly mood-dampening during the day, gave the whole evening a unique pink glow in Burchell Hill, Bridle Ridge, and the new Oakdale Community Park skatepark area alike.
National Night Out is an event celebrated on the first Tuesday of August every year, in thousands of communities all across America. According to their website, it’s “a national community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships.”
The Oakdale Skatepark debuted its National Night Out capacity, when law enforcement and the people of Oakdale alike joined up. For the skatepark, the activities spread across the entire venue.
Oakdale High School’s S-Club members came to lead some of the games that were being put on, including ring toss, rock painting, and superhero dress-up. Vendors from around the community made an appearance, including The Wandering Barista, Oakie’s Board Shop, and Bloomingcamp Ranch. The event was full of law enforcement, whether on foot, showing off vehicles, or riding on their horses.
A few associations also were at National Night Out, including the Free Mobile Farmer’s Market, with Interfaith Ministries.
“This is fresh produce we give out to the community. We try to target areas that are high-desert,” Naomi Toledo explained of the Modesto-based organization. “We try to go to those areas where they’re far away from supermarkets, where they don’t have access to this stuff.”
Though Oakdale isn’t their normal scene, they partnered with the event and came for the special National Night Out, which raised awareness to their cause and let a few families in the community go home with plenty of fresh produce.
Further into the park was an Elvis impersonator, the animal shelter with kittens, food donated by the city, and kid-friendly entertainment, including a free fingerprinting booth.
Though there were the three main venues spread across town, there were also a few neighborhoods doing their own National Night Out, including Vista Verano, Golden Empire, School/Olive, and Cottleswood.
Burchell Hill put on its usual show, and was packed with families, pets, and a lot of cotton candy. Their car show was spread out along Jacob Way, and decorative flags lined the perimeter of the main event, music playing from the Oakdale Community Band, and families picnicking on the grass. They even had door prizes for members of the community to win, as well as an antique fire engine being shown.
There was plenty of food to go around, with donations from pizza establishments like Round Table, Dominos, and Little Caesars, along with hamburgers from House of Beef, served by members of Oakdale’s Lions Club. There were also games, face painting, park structure playtime, as well a visit from OER’s “ambassador” Jack.
“He’s 30 years old,” Jeannine Etheridge, President of Oakdale Equine Rescue (OER) noted of the donkey. “He goes to all the events. I could bring a horse, but with all the kids and everything Jack’s been there, done that. He's been around programs, been around schools.”
Bridle Ridge provided similar entertainment and food, and featured a bouncy castle at their location.
The small community of Valley Home was among countless other locations across the country to celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 7. As members of the community gathered at Valley Home Park, they were greeted with familiar faces from both the present as well as the past.
Memory boards, decorations and refreshments were placed along the picnic tables in the park for attendees to enjoy while they socialized. The memory boards were full of images dating back to the town’s early days; including churches, schools and the post office. Other pictures included graduations, parades and other community events.
Following dinner, special guest Pammie Moore took front and center and shared her memories of her childhood growing up in the town. During her speech she described the town’s history, the historic families who helped shape Valley Home into the community it is today and how much the hamlet had changed since her childhood. Shortly after her speech was done, her mother stood up and shared her memories of Valley Home as well.
Also on hand were members of the Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department. Engine number 30 stopped by and allowed youngsters to sit in the big red engine and all were given a firefighter helmet as well. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department did a flyover with its helicopter, adding to the festivities.
Leader Reporter Dennis D. Cruz contributed to this story