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National Night Out Comes To Downtown Park
Two members of Stanislaus Countys Probation Department discussed their jobs with participants at Riverbanks National Night Out event at the Community Center Park on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Across the street, members of the Sheriffs Bomb Squad discuss their equipment with visitors. Almost all of the organizations participating had some giveaway items for the youngsters who came out to the event.News Photos By Ric McGinnis

Breaking with a longstanding tradition this past week, the local celebration of the National Night Out was consolidated to one location, Community Center Park, on Santa Fe Street in downtown Riverbank. The event occurred on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

In past years, health and safety units split into two groups and traveled around town, stopping at multiple Neighborhood Watch locations for food and demonstrations.

Originally, the National Night Out was devised to help strengthen the Neighborhood Watch organizations.

According to Police Services Chief Erin Kiely, in the past, there were many locations to reach on each of the two legs of the tour. He said, just as a conversation at one location was getting going, everyone would have to pull out to get to the next spot on time. This seemed to interfere with the intention of the event.

Many towns and cities across the country have begun having their National Night Out in a single location, inviting the public to come to them. In California, cities like Oroville, Sacramento, and others up and down the state have switched to this way of celebrating the event.

Participants at the Riverbank event included Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Department, the ambulance service from Oak Valley Hospital in Oakdale, the Stanislaus County Probation Department, Oakdale Shelter Pet Alliance and the Oakdale Animal Control Unit.

Doctor’s Hospital in Modesto provided an information booth, roving tiger mascot and a static vehicle display. It consisted of a digital display showing both the temperature of the air and the temperature inside the car. At 6 p.m., the outside temperature remained at 98 degrees, while inside the car, it was 111. On the display was a description of symptoms of heat stroke, warnings against leaving pets or humans inside an unattended car, and suggestions on what to do if one encountered such a situation.

Even at the end of the evening, with the sun going down and the temperature declining, it remained 111 degrees inside the car.

The Sheriff’s Department presented its Bomb Disposal unit and the county Sheriff’s Sergeant’s Association provided a bicycle to be given away. Since names were not written on the tickets, winners had to be present to win, so many stayed for the drawing. Four back to school backpacks were given away as well.

Chief Kiely estimated the crowd at being between 125 and 150 attendees.