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Lathrop marks National Night Out this evening with driveway and sidewalk chalk competition
NNO chalk

This year they’re breaking out the chalk to bring everyone together.

While the block parties and large gatherings typically associated with National Night Out may be off the table due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lathrop didn’t want to completely pull the plug on the neighborhood-unifying event – opting instead for a driveway and sidewalk chalk competition being advertised as “United We Draw.”

Tonight, Lathrop residents are encouraged to break out their sidewalk chalk and decorate the front of their house with inspirational messages that will then be viewed by elected officials, city staff, and first responders that will decide on the awards for the 2020 event.

“Before folks would get together and barbecue and we would have our first responders out there and it would provide such a great benefit to the community – it got everybody together in a non-enforcement capacity which was kind of nice and people really got to know one another,” said Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann. “This year we can’t do that, obviously, but residents still have a chance to show their community spirit and do something that even individually will bring the community together.”

Last week Biedermann joined Lathrop Manteca Fire Chief Gene Neely and Parks and Recreation Director Zach Jones for a video message explaining the change to the format this year and how people can still participate even though they won’t be able to do the standard block party that been such a fixture of Lathrop’s neighborhoods over the years.

The adjustment is just the latest in a series of outside-the-box thinking employed by Jones and his team to help preserve the sense of community Lathrop has been working so hard to build over the last decade – from restaurant bingo cards to virtual trivia games.

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t gather this year for National Night Out to celebrate and build community due to COVID-19,” Jones said. “So, we are encouraging families to create messages of inspiration through chalk art on their sidewalks and driveways.

“Of course, we are reminding all people to maintain proper social distances.”

United We Draw is scheduled to take place tonight from 6 to 8 p.m., and according to Biedermann, individuals from the city and local emergency services will be driving around the community looking for the best entries so that those residents can be rewarded for their efforts.

For additional information, or to watch the video produced to help advertise the event, visit the City of Lathrop’s Facebook page which can be found by searching for City of Lathrop on the popular social networking site.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.