By Robin GOLDSWORTHY and Mary O’KEEFE
Thousands of neighbors across the nation gathered this week with one focus: neighborhood safety. Locally, Tuesday night was very busy with National Night Out events.
La Crescenta and La Cañada Flintridge combined an event on Tuesday held in the parking lot of Ross Dress for Less, 2111 Foothill Blvd.
“It went well,” said Sgt. Cynthia Gonzales, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. community officer at Crescenta Valley Station.
This was the first year the NNO event, sponsored by the CV Sheriff’s Station, was held at Ross; usually it was located at Ralph’s parking lot in La Crescenta. There were several booths including L.A. County Fire Dept., Montrose Search and Rescue, LASD, CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) and CV Fire Safe Council. In addition there were booths of community organizations and the CV Chamber of Commerce. All were there to help open communication among law enforcement and emergency services and the community. In addition to information being shared, the sheriff’s station had a free barbecue.
“We ran out of hot dogs. We gave out over 300,” Gonzales said.
She estimated that about 250 people came by to browse the booths.
Visitors could meet and talk with CV Sheriff’s Station Capt. Bill Song as well as those deputies who patrol their neighborhoods.
Among the 45 NNO events throughout Glendale was the annual Sycamore Woods Neighborhood Watch event held on the grounds of the Crescenta Valley Water District at 3730 Glenwood Ave. Members of the Glendale Police Dept., including Chief Robert Castro and K-9 Unit Officer Rolando and his German shepherd Branko, and Glendale firefighters joined neighbors in talking about crime prevention.
“NNO is a great event,” Chief Castro said. “This is an opportunity for people to become comfortable with the police. After all, it’s a partnership – we can only be successful if they’re comfortable to work with us. We need that type of partnership.”
Neighborhood Watch captain Trissie Badger took on the emcee duties for the evening inviting the children to take part in a scavenger hunt or face painting. There were also raffles, gift bags provided by CVWD and desserts.
The Oakmont Woods Residents Association also sponsored National Night Out for the Oakmont Woods area. The local gathering was held at the neighborhood pool. Firemen from the Honolulu station brought fire engine 29 for the community to see. Among the guests were long-standing members Sonia and Joe Beerer and son David, Leonard Coutin, Gigi Garcia, Mike Jamehdor and family, Susan and Wes Bacon.
Further south on Bonita Drive, the Verdugo Woodlands West Homeowners Assn. held its inaugural NNO event at Verdugo Adobe, one of the oldest buildings in the City of Glendale.
Well over 100 people spread across the 1.3-acre site, enjoying live music by the Dad Beats, and treats from an ice cream truck and food truck.
“It’s an amazing success,” said Mirna Stanley of the VWWHOA who has lived in the area for 44 years. “We didn’t know how many people to expect. We had to get more nametags and even more food. We’re going to definitely have another NNO event next year.”
In addition to the music and food, visitors had the chance to tour the historic Verdugo Adobe, which is registered as a California historical landmark. Docent Ann Denis described how the Adobe was maintained in the early days and spoke about the place settings that were on display.
Sgt. Sean Riley, GPD Area Command Unit, was pleased with the turnout at the Verdugo Adobe site.
“It’s very gratifying to see so many people here,” Riley said. “It’s a great way to bring the neighbors out.”
He added that NNO gives officers the chance to meet and greet people that the GPD serves.
“It opens communication between neighbors and police,” he added.
Another Glendale NNO event was held in the 3900 block of Los Olivos Lane.
“It went great. We had about 230 people here last night. We had a very good turnout and they ate lots of food,” said Ray Stewart.
The potluck picnic/barbecue is an annual event held by local neighbors and leaders of the Neighborhood Watch including Ray and Susan Stewart and Edith M. Fuentes.
“We have done this for five years,” Ray said. “I try to get our neighbors involved and [let them know] not to be afraid to pick up the phone when they see something.”
Ray added the night is a great way to meet with neighbors and to get to know neighbors who may need help during an emergency, but also is a way to remind them to call the police if they see something suspicious.
“We want people to get involved in their neighborhood,” he added.
He recounted a story of a neighbor who had a frightening experience about two months ago when she opened her blinds and saw a person attempting to break into her home. He wanted to make certain that people know they need to call the police right away.
His main concern was about protecting seniors in the area and wants them to be aware of their surroundings.
Fuentes was also pleased with the turnout. She sent an email to neighbors thanking them for all their help.
“Getting to know neighbors and being on the look-out for everyone is the most neighborly love and concern we can do for everyone,” Fuentes stated.
The event was fun with a bounce house and good food. Neighbors each brought a dish to share and Ray barbecued a lot of chicken, ribs and bratwurst.