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Community Unites In Night Out
Marking its silver anniversary, the National Night Out observance was staged Tuesday, Aug. 5 in Escalon and in communities across the country. Escalon has joined in the annual event for more than a decade and this year featured eight different neighborhood gatherings around the city.

National Night Out is designed as a way for neighbors to get together, meet with emergency services and city personnel, share a barbecue or potluck and 'take back the night' from crime and drugs.

In Escalon, the night is a busy one, with the contingent of police, fire, ambulance and city personnel moving in a caravan from one neighborhood spot to another, going Code 3 - lights and sirens - from place to place. Offered in a roughly three hour window from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., each stop is limited as to length of time the caravan can stay because of the sheer number of stops that have to be made.

Still, organizers at each location are presented with a special certificate of recognition from the city and welcome the chance to interact, sharing a meal and conversation with the caravan.

"We've done it eight or nine years," Chianti Court resident and co-organizer Jackie Sappenfield said. "It's just neighbors, just a nice thing to do."

Along with the annual National Night Out gathering, residents in the court also gather for their own holiday meal in December.

"We see what people look like in the summer and the winter," joked co-organizer Joyce Van Gorkum.

Karen Walden and son Jacob, 6, were at the Chianti Court gathering, mom Karen noting that she grew up on the street and always comes back for the 'night out.'

Charlie Dodge organized the potluck at Chablis and Chardonnay.

"We didn't have it last year," she said, noting that the Greers, who used to coordinate it, moved from the area.

This year, she wanted to make sure the neighbors got together so she took it upon herself to get it organized.

Cheryl Harter hosted the Sacramento-St. Clair gathering for the second year.

"Because of the Neighborhood Watch program, our neighbors have expressed a big interest in being involved," Harter said. "This was basically for them, to get them involved with emergency services personnel and meet the neighbors ... the people they need to know to participate in Neighborhood Watch."

Malissa Borden and son Huck were there to enjoy the gathering. They are living with Borden's grandmother Elsie Cunha, while husband Brent is deployed overseas.

"We love it here," Borden said, adding that she envisions staying in town when her husband returns. "Daddy's going to insist he (Huck) goes to Escalon High."

Scooping up the ice cream for their annual ice cream social at Genevieve and Danielle were Gwyneth Fernandes and daughter Brittany Best.