National Night Out (NNO) was held on Tuesday, Aug. 3 where a caravan of vehicles including Riverbank Police Services and city officials made stops in neighborhoods hosting events to mingle and build community partnerships. There were two stops in Riverbank, one on California Avenue and another on Heritage Manor Drive.
“It is extremely important that law enforcement participate in NNO,” stated RPS Chief Ed Ridenour. “NNO is a great way to meet our residents and to interact with our youth. We are only as effective as the relationships we have with our community, we have to work together to ensure we have a safe community and strong quality of life for our residents.”
The chief has participated in several NNO celebrations over the years and as a patrol watch commander he attended several events across the county. The annual campaign promotes community partnerships with law enforcement and neighbors within the community. Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District (SCFPD) was in the lineup to attend the annual event but got called out last minute to a fire.
The participation was lower this year than in years past. Riverbank originally had three stops to make but one of them canceled last minute. The hot temperatures, air quality, and the rise in COVID cases were discussed as possible factors.
“NNO was not attended as well as other years by the community,” agreed Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien. “There are many possible reasons; the most prominent is the COVID-19 resurgence. For the last nine years, I have been involved with NNO and have thoroughly enjoyed the community involvement. Many have been tremendous turnouts that celebrated neighbors. We will get back to those events as we slowly return to normal.”
Along with the mayor and the chief, there were several other officials on hand including City Manager Sean Scully, Councilmember Darlene Barber Martinez, Councilmember Luis Uribe, SCFPD Board President Greg Bernardi, and law enforcement personnel.
The first stop could not be missed with a large, cool, blue, inflatable waterslide in the front yard. The caravan rolled down California Avenue where they were greeted by smiling faces. There was pizza, watermelon, waters, and snacks for those that participated. The waterslide was perfect for the hot day and the kids were not the only ones that enjoyed it, as K9 Maverick got a chance to take a quick dip and cool off.
The second stop on Heritage Manor Drive had streamers, a big sign, refreshments and tables set up for guests to join the celebration in the neighborhood. There were some youngsters and a couple of Police Explorers that participated in some basketball action. There was a couple that is new to the area that attended the event and was really pleased to be a part of it and meet the local officials and law enforcement.
“We noticed a lower turnout across the county,” added Ridenour. “Even only having two locations I feel we made a positive impact with our residents. We provided games, stickers, and safety material to our youth and interacted with residents of all ages. People seemed very pleased to have us stop by and say hi and I was equally pleased to speak with them. I feel this year’s NNO strengthened our bond with our residents.”
Although there were only two locations in Riverbank the goal was obtained of camaraderie and community partnerships as people mingled and got to know each other. The chief noted that he would like to see more neighbors get together and perhaps coordinate parties at a park around town.
He said, “We would love to come out and meet as many people as possible as it is always fun hearing from those we serve. I look forward to next year’s event.”
According to the website natw.org, NNO was introduced in August 1984 and the first annual event involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states. Since then the annual event has grown even bigger with neighborhoods hosting block parties, festivals, parades, and cookouts.
“I enjoy being with the community and this event celebrates the ultimate community – your neighbors,” remarked O’Brien. “Next year will be much better in the turnout and the number of events. We are resilient and we are Riverbank. And we will be 100 this next year and will celebrate together.”