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National Night Out Classified A Big Success
nno- apts grill
Volunteer Serena Van Dyke bravely mans the grill despite the August heat, flipping burgers for the residents of her community at Golden Empire Apartments National Night Out. Autumn Neal/The Leader

A sweltering Wednesday, with temperatures at 106 degrees in Oakdale, Aug. 1 nonetheless saw residents come together in the muggy weather and befriend one another.

National Night Out, celebrated the first Tuesday evening in August, is an event dedicated to developing the relationship between communities and their local law enforcement as well as creating a safer environment within neighborhoods.

The event, according to their website, has been active for 34 years, with 16,000 communities involved nationwide.

Many neighborhoods in Oakdale came together to host National Night Out events. Burchell Hill celebrated its seventh year participating in the event, and communities like Golden Empire Apartments hosted their first gathering this year.

The latter joined together next to the apartment complex with a bright green sign welcoming friends and neighbors to their community. Golden Empire Apartments had a bounce house attraction, donated by ADP, and were serving burgers donated by McDonald’s.

“We just started asking people,” Kathy Waterman, a coordinator, said of the set-up. “We started getting people to volunteer and donate.”

Tables, chairs, ice chests, kid’s toys, and more were all donated by neighbors and friends, as well as those close to the area. Essentially, the whole Golden Empire Apartments and surrounding community came together to pull off their first year of National Night Out.

In their first 40 minutes of the event, they attracted 30 to 40 neighbors to come and join. Many more visited later on in the evening.

“We want to do it bigger and better next year,” Waterman expressed.

Burchell Hill also had many attractions for the community on their side of town. Included there were booths, free food, car shows, a live band, and more.

Among the booths were the Army Corps of Engineers partnered with the Stanislaus River Parks, who gave out river safety information. The farmer’s market had a preview booth of products sold every Wednesday night. The Oakdale Equine Rescue featured live animals at their booth. A Braille display, face painting, and licensing could also be found at Burchell Hill’s National Night Out.

Also present was the Oakdale Community Band, playing music very much like that heard at Disneyland and fairs, which gave the neighborhood gathering a whimsical feel.

Fire trucks, police cars, classic cars, and other displays were parked along the edge of the park, showing off for visitors. Those present at the event, lined surrounding blocks with their cars to get a spot and join in the fun.

Door and grand prizes were also available, with gift cards from local businesses in town like Papapolloni’s and Cafe Bliss. The grand prizes included a Black Oak “Holiday for Two,” and kid’s bicycles.

No matter the location, National Night Out was a chance for communities to come together and create a friendly, safe environment within their neighborhoods. Relationships were built, friends reunited, and the camaraderie among individuals and law enforcement within the Oakdale community strengthened.

For more information on National Night Out, or how to host an event next year, visit