By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Community Celebrates National Night Out
Temperatures were mild for the beginning of August, leading to a picture perfect celebration for National Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

A contingent of Escalon police, fire, ambulance and city personnel made its way to six scheduled stops and a few vehicles in the caravan also got to the at-the-last-minute gathering that constituted stop number seven of the night. Along the way, there were barbecues, ice cream, plenty of time for talking, free giveaways and the presentation of certificates for those residents hosting the neighborhood events.

National Night Out is observed across the country on the first Tuesday of August, highlighted by residents meeting with police and emergency services officials to 'take back the night' from crime and drugs, strengthening police-community relations and getting out to meet the neighbors.

Stops in Escalon started on Chianti Court, proceeded to Jonathan Court, Mission Street, Brayton Avenue, Saron Lutheran Church on North Street, Adriana/Danielle and the final stop on Edgetown, at the south end of the city.

Joining the local contingent for the first stop of the night was Escalon area supervisor Ken Vogel, who represents Escalon on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors in District 4.

"I'd never had a chance in this area so I wanted to be sure I came this year," Vogel said of visiting Escalon for National Night Out. "I'm very impressed with the community and how they work together."

There was never a shortage of food at the stops, but the real focus was on getting residents interacting, with a chance for sharing concerns and successes.

First-year councilman Jeff Laugero said he thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

"It's a good turnout and it's nice to get out and see people you don't normally see," he said. "The community is getting out there and it's a chance to meet your neighbors ... it's a good social event."

Laugero said he didn't have to handle too many city complaints; rather, people took the time to just share in the food and camaraderie.

Councilman Ed Alves, meanwhile, had the opportunity to talk to residents on a range of issues and came away with a game plan for some concerns, from graffiti abatement to upkeep of foreclosed properties.

"It's always interesting," Alves said. "A variety of people, a variety of issues."

Mayor Walt Murken had the honor at each stop of recognizing the various neighborhood organizers, presenting each with a certificate of appreciation from the city.

Mission Street had its regular large gathering of neighbors, with the backyard barbecue serving up burgers, chicken and more.

On Jonathan Court, young Jonathan Jarchow, 4, was excitedly moving around the fire truck, eager for a tour. Mom Amy and little sister Grace, four months old, were not far behind.

"He likes all the emergency vehicles and I like seeing my neighbors," mom Amy said.

On Brayton Avenue, the arrival of the caravan was heralded by lights and sirens, which co-organizer Claudette Picanco said was just the ticket that got her son, four-month-old Lucas, to stop crying. Around the corner on Lydia, Jennifer Vander Meulen and her two daughters, Delia, 2, and Ella, 4, also came to the gathering, summoned by the sirens.

"They all came down our street so we knew just when to go out," Vander Meulen said. "The kids like the trucks and we've met some of our neighbors through this. It's fun."

Music was on the schedule at Saron Lutheran Church, with those attending serenaded by the accordion playing of Stan Baranski.

At the ice cream social on Adriana, co-organizer Pat Evans was quick to bend the ear of officials.

"I'm glad you're here," she said as she took Police Chief Doug Dunford aside. "They're still speeding on Escalon-Bellota."

Assured by the chief that there are efforts under way to clamp down on speeding vehicles throughout the city, Evans and co-organizer Patti Wood then served up the ice cream for sundaes.

Lindsay Runnels hosted the gathering on the city's south side, the first time the group on Edgewood has gotten together. It was the final stop of the night.

"We're a new neighborhood in the community and I wanted to get to know my neighbors," Runnels said. "I think it has been successful."