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Night Out Caravan Makes Multiple Stops
Nine different stops were on the schedule for the contingent of city, police, fire and ambulance personnel in Escalon on Tuesday night, as the community gathered for National Night Out celebrations around the city.

Chianti, Colombard, Chablis, Irwin, Saron Lutheran Church, Mission Street, Jonathon Court, Trinity Church and Brayton Avenue all featured neighborhood events, and the official caravan made a stop at each one.

In two cases, at Chianti and Colombard, Trinity and Brayton, the group could park in one central location and walk to each gathering.

The goal of National Night Out - celebrated around the country this year on Tuesday, Aug. 2 - is to get neighbors out of their homes and onto front porches and into yards, sharing a potluck or a barbecue, meeting the neighbors and socializing with city and emergency services personnel. It is a sign of solidarity, 'taking back the night' from crime.

"I like the gathering of the people," said Jola Holmes, getting ready to enjoy a barbecue dinner on Chianti Court, site of the caravan's first official stop. "It's nice to know your neighbors and the politicians and officials of the city, it's very interesting."

Several city council members were on hand with the caravan, in addition to Police Chief Jim Shaw and a variety of representatives from the fire department, police department and Escalon Community Ambulance.

A new gathering on Colombard was organized by Karen Morgan.

"Just because of all the kids in the neighborhood," she said of why she wanted to get involved this year.

"They like to see all this stuff," she added, motioning to the multitude of emergency services vehicles in the court.

At each gathering, residents had the chance to 'meet and greet' city officials, often taking the opportunity to discuss a little city business or ask questions of police and fire reps. On Chablis, neighbors gathered under pop ups to enjoy barbecued meats, a variety of side dishes, homemade lemonade and even some wine for the older attendees.

"I like the activities and I like meeting my neighbors," Cynthia Colagrossi said of attending and helping coordinate the event on Irwin.

She recently moved in to town and said she has found the people in the area to be extremely friendly and welcoming.

"I have great neighbors, that's what's so existing," she said.

Tanya Bush brought her sons Christopher, 3, and Camden, 1, to look at and tour the fire engines and ambulance.

"I think it's great, my little ones like to see the fire trucks," Bush noted.

A huge potluck, topping it off with ice cream and homemade desserts, was offered up at Saron Lutheran Church, while Gene Bartolomei and his accordion served up the entertainment.

Gilbert Varekamp was once again one of the organizers for the Mission Street gathering.

"I love to do it," Varekamp said, explaining that they often have new neighbors move in from one year to the next and it's a great way to get to meet them. "I'm also very interested in the police department, the fire and ambulance.

"We appreciate everything they do, we always pray for them in church."

Brianne Cerasi was among those enjoying the Jonathon Court gathering, with a bevy of children climbing on and in the rescue equipment.

"We moved here last year but we missed it," she said, noting that she was glad to bring her children outside for National Night Out this year when the caravan arrived in style, lights flashing and sirens blaring. "It's awesome ... the kids love it."

Son A.J. Cerasi, 4, particularly enjoyed "the closing the ears" when he put on the headset in the fire truck that locks out all sound except the voice from the firefighter in the headphones.

Trinity Church had a big gathering as well, coinciding with a Tuesday night youth group, where there was everything from ping pong to Guitar Hero to a pool table open for business. Also in the same area, a gathering of neighbors on Brayton featured a potluck and was the final stop of the night for the caravan.

Recognized with certificates for helping coordinate the gatherings at the various stops were:

Chianti Court Cookout, Jackie Sappenfield, Glenda Machado, Meg Fitzsimons, Joyce VanGorkum; Colombard Neighbors, Karen Morgan; Chablis Drive, Dale and Phyllis Larson, Rick and Charlie Dodge; Irwin Block Party, Dorothy Miller, Terry Gannon, Cynthia Colagrossi; Saron Lutheran Church, Education, Youth and Fellowship (Ann Shaddix and Pastor Victor Berg-Haglund); Welcome to Mission Street, Gilbert Varekamp, Scott and Judy Orr; Jonathon Court, Denise Schulz, Kim Churchill; Brayton Avenue, Evelyn Swass, Amber Kost; Trinity Church, Arney Corbin, Jim Davis.