For the second year, National Night Out in Riverbank was celebrated at the Community Center Park.
For the most part, the event was held under the shade trees on the northeast corner of the park, on Santa Fe Street, near the playground equipment.
In past years, health and safety units split into two groups and traveled around town, stopping at Neighborhood Watch locations for food and demonstrations.
According to Police Services Chief Erin Kiely, in the past, there were many locations to reach around town 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.
Other 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.
National Night Out has been organized since 1984 and is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in the United States and Canada. Nation-wide sponsors include ADT Security Services and Target Stores, which were present here in Riverbank.
National Night Out, a community police awareness-raising event, is observed annually on the first Tuesday in August in the United States, except in Texas, where it is celebrated on the first Tuesday in October.
Events can be as simple as backyard barbecues or as large as full-blown festivals.
Here in Riverbank, in addition to police and fire department participation, a variety of community groups presented exhibits.
The Central Valley Resource Center volunteers were providing nachos to eat, the Sheriff’s S.T.A.R.S. community volunteers were there, and Riverbank Target employees brought food and other activities for participants. Representatives from the local ADT outlet in Modesto were on hand as well.
Both Oakdale Pet Alliance and the Oakdale Animal Control Unit were on hand to provide information on pet adoption. Both provide pet services for Riverbank as well as Oakdale.
Although Mother Nature has not been kind to outdoor events in Riverbank this summer, the local version of National Night Out seemed well attended. The traditional balloon toss competition between officers and youngsters, though heated, provided a little relief from the heat, even with a broken balloon loss.
Nobody, officers nor the public, seemed to mind getting wet.