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Night Out Caravan Keeps Up Hectic Pace
Young Colette Evans, 3, is nearly beside herself with joy as Public Works employee Austin Jackson adds a third glow necklace to her colorful chain, the two sharing a smile at National Night Out during a stop on Oakwood. Times Photos By Marg Jackson

With roughly 15 to 20 minutes allocated per stop, the caravan of local officials visiting multiple locations for National Night Out literally had time to just about eat and run.

The annual observance of National Night Out on the first Tuesday of August came this year on Aug. 1 and Escalon joined with communities across the country to celebrate the event. Designed as a way to get neighbors out to meet each other and greet emergency services personnel and city leaders in a relaxed, informal setting, the Escalon event featured eight different stops for the official caravan.

At each location, items ranging from stickers to pencils to glow necklaces to the popular ‘fidget spinners’ were handed out. Escalon Police and Escalon Fire Department members joined city officials in the visits, with Public Works, City Council members and City Hall personnel all part of the caravan. Tours of the fire trucks and police cruisers were popular among youngsters, while the city also used the eTrans public transit buses to help carry the caravan members.

Festivities at the neighborhood locations included potlucks, barbecues, an ice cream social and more.

“We’ve come out to this since we’ve been living here,” said Amber Kost, attending a gathering in the 1300 block of Brayton.

Kost, in fact, has previously hosted the gathering there with neighbor Evelyn Swass but this year was enjoying simply attending the festivities with her family.

On Mission Street, young Jonah Allard, 3½, was there with Gail Allard and Jonah was taking a tour of a fire truck, getting the chance to check out a thermal imaging camera.

“It’s his first time at National Night Out where he can investigate things,” Gail noted. “We’re enjoying it.”

The caravan started its tour at 6 p.m. and traveled to eight different hosted National Night Out events scattered throughout the city. Neighborhood gatherings were hosted at: the 500 block of Thompson Way, the 500 block of Chablis Drive, 1700 block of North Street (Saron Lutheran Church), the 1300 block of Brayton, 2300 block of Mission Street, 2400 block of Jonathon Drive, the 1500 block of Sophie Lane, and the final stop was in the 1500 block of Oakwood Drive.

Rob Egan was a popular neighbor on Jonathon Drive, as he had a cooler on wheels filled with ice cold water bottles that he was handing out to all in need of a little refreshment.

“It’s the best event of the year,” said Escalon Police Department officer Scott Bynum, handing out giveaway items to a group of youngsters at one stop.

“This is awesome,” added new Police Department reserve officer Annemarie Aguirre, who said she was enjoying “getting to communicate with the community members.”

Officials agreed that having the chance to meet and greet residents, even if only for a few minutes over a grilled hot dog or an ice cream cone, helps to open the lines of communication.

“I still say the best part is that the kids get to play in the police cars and the fire trucks,” noted Mayor Pro Tem Robert Swift.

City Manager Tammy Alcantor added that officials were very pleased with the overall event.

“This was fun, we had eight stops and even with the heat, everyone still came out,” she said.