Neighborhoods were abuzz with laughter and chatter and the smell of barbecue filled the air as hundreds of Lodians took to the streets to celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday.
Now in its 34th year, National Night Out is an annual event in which neighbors host parties to get to know one another in an effort to quell crime in their city.
There were a total of 80 National Night Out parties registered with the City of Lodi, and one of the largest was held on the 700 block of Lee Avenue.
Residents on the block rented an inflatable waterslide for the youngsters, who welcomed the cool waters in the nearly 90-degree summer weather.
Resident Julie Williams said the block is the best in Lodi, adding that the Saint Paul Lutheran Church at the corner of Lee Avenue and Tokay Street provides the tables, chairs and ice cream each year.
“We love our block,” she said. “(The night is) an opportunity for us to close the street and give the kids a little bit of freedom because of the cars,” she said. “It’s a wonderful way for the kids to have a positive introduction, not only to some of the new neighbors, but to the city and its staff as well.”
Dolores Klipfell has lived on the block since 1953 and shared some interesting history about Lee Avenue.
The 700 block was one of the oldest in town, she said, and was the first to have streetlights installed.
She added that there has never been any need to call police or the fire department in the 66 years she has lived there.
“We’ve always had a nice block,” she said. “It’s very little that we’ve ever had anything happen here. We all know our neighbors here and we always try to get to know the new people who move in the the neighborhood.”
Scott Hamilton hosted a large party on the 100 block of South Crescent Avenue, where neighbors gathered on the lawn of a home once known as The Finches Roost, which he recently restored.
“Tonight is really about getting the neighbors out to meet each other and have a good time,” he said. “A lot of the older folks in the neighborhood have been living here 40 or 50 years, so they’ve known each other for a long time. But we have new neighbors coming in the area, and now they get to meet the old neighbors.”
One of the older neighbors is Jim Swanson, who said he and his neighbors should hold more get-togethers, even when it isn’t National Night Out.
“It’s just good to meet your neighbors and good to get out of the house for an evening,” he said. “We should make more excuses to do this.”
The San Joaquin County Horseman’s Association hosted a party at Robinson’s Feed on Victor Road. It was the second year the store and organization had partnered to bring the community together, spokeswoman Julie Gomes said.
“Our club — and really any organization — works to get people from all over the community to work with each other,” she said. “This is a great example of that. This is a whole group of people getting to know each other. The kids are having a good time, their parents are talking. It’s just a great time.”
The party also had a large inflatable waterslide for children and was visited by the Lodi Police Department’s Special Weapons and Tactics team.
The evening also featured Tae Kwon Do and line dancing demonstrations, the latter of which were taught by Morada resident Robin Bond.
She said line dancers will travel anywhere to have a good evening, and when Robinson’s asked her and some friends to come out, she couldn’t resist.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “Anytime people get a chance to get together in their community is a good thing.”
Created by the National Association of Town Watch in 1985, National Night Out is celebrated across the country on the first Tuesday of August.
The event focuses on community-building, neighborhood camaraderie and promoting partnerships with local police departments.
For more information, visit www.natw.org.