By Jason KUROSU
The 31st annual National Night Out brought residents together Tuesday night to share resources, meet law enforcement officials and simply get to know each other in hopes of creating a network among neighbors to raise awareness about local crime and ways to prevent it.
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station hosted its fifth consecutive National Night Out event at the Ralph’s parking lot in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard. The event was considerably larger than in past years as the roped off area of the parking lot encompassed, among other things, a fire truck, a Montrose Search & Rescue truck, numerous classic cars and more.
Free food, games for kids and giveaways coincided with meet and greets with law enforcement officials and hands-on interaction with equipment used to save lives.
Some displays, such as the Montrose Search & Rescue truck, have appeared at National Night Out since it began. Reserve deputy Linda Daniels showed attendees the equipment MSR uses to lift lost hikers, motorcyclists and others who go “over the side” using the winch in the rear of the truck.
But there were also new additions to the Ralph’s National Night Out, such as the Early Rodders Classic Car Club and the Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), an organization dedicated to aiding abused children, whether it be simply visiting a child or accompanying them to therapy or court cases. BACA members distributed prizes for children at its first National Night Out, for which they volunteered their services.
National Night Out activities were also hosted by the Oakmont Woods Residents Assn. and headed by Sylvia Macias, president of Neighborhood Watch in Oakmont Woods with the assistance of OWRA president Leonard Coutin and treasurer Kristine Isagulyan and coordinated by OWRA board member Gigi Garcia.
The residents of the Glenwood/Sycamore Avenue area of La Crescenta held their annual National Night Out at the Crescenta Valley Water District, the first such event held there after years of hosting National Night Out at the nearby Twelve Oaks Assisted Living Facility.
Since the closure of Twelve Oaks, CVWD volunteered the use of its facility. Among the giveaways, raffle prizes and safety pamphlets were items for promoting water conservation. The CVWD event was attended by Glendale City Councilmember Paula Devine, Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro and several members of the Glendale police and fire departments.
Julia Leeper, head of the Sycamore Woods Neighborhood Watch, hosted the event, as she had in the past, welcoming both new and familiar neighbors to the fold.
Block captain and six-year La Crescenta resident Trissie Badger said that the Neighborhood Watch and neighborhood solidarity events such as National Night Out have helped keep the community safe, as neighbors are looking out for one another.
“It’s definitely brought us together. There are some neighbors I very well may have never met if not for Neighborhood Watch and National Night Out,” said Badger. “We really do watch out for each other. We notice when unfamiliar people are in the neighborhood. The police like us because we make their job easier.”
Attendance at this year’s NNO for Sunland and Tujunga at Little Landers Park in Tujunga was down over previous years, according to residents who attended the outing.
“A lot of things that go around here, you would think that they would be putting more signs like in the markets, more fliers out,” said George Beach, a resident of Tujunga. “The only time I really find out what’s going on is when I go pay my storage by Cherry’s Diner.”
Beach only found out about NNO at Little Landers Park through his grandson, who is a docent at Bolton Hall, adjacent to the park.
David Barron, Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council District 3 representative, attributed the low attendance to poor advertising.
“Part of it is not enough outreach,” Barron said. “You have to start much earlier with advertising. We only have the couple of local papers to put it in.”
At present, National Night Out events take place in over 16,000 communities nationwide.
Michael Arvizu contributed to this story.