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National Night Out helps fight crime
Manteca NNO
A youngster gets a chance to sit in the driver’s seat of the Manteca Fire Department’s 1927 American LaFrance fire engine during a National Night Out gathering Tuesday.

The scene in front of Mike Drury’s Del Webb at Woodbridge home on Tuesday was about what one would expect on National Night Out – an evening where neighbors across the country get together to socialize and build community bonds aimed at promoting neighborhood awareness and assisting in stamping out crime. 

Neighbors sat in lawn chairs conversing while waiting for other neighbors to show up before enjoying a spread of food that included carnitas, tacos, and a variety of salads. 

But while Del Webb residents often socialize with one another in the front yard – many of the homes in the neighborhood have backyard patio sets on the front porch – the event on Tuesday was one that Drury said he has looked forward to every year since moving to Del Webb in 2007. 

It also gives him a chance to thank the people who might one day be called on to save him. 

“It’s all about being social,” Drury said. “People are friendly, and we look out for each other and this builds that bond and gives us the chance to talk to our local police and firefighters.

“And let’s face it – we count on those firemen who may be called on to save us one day.”

While some neighborhoods have moved to larger parties where everybody gets together at one place, in Del Webb neighbors still congregate on a block-by-block basis – gathering in front yards and welcoming all neighbors on the street with impressive spreads of food that all neighbors contribute to. 

It’s a similar format that Michele Anderson and her neighbors on Mingo Way in Lathrop have utilized for decades – even as the city itself has gone to the larger whole-development projects that streamline the process but take away from the core concept of neighbors getting to know other neighbors for the sake of promoting neighborhood unity. 

For longtime Lathrop resident Vada Klingman, parties on the one on Mingo Way are what National Night Out is all about, and evidence of why the event is important pop up from time-to-time even in a community that is becoming increasingly popular with commuters. 

“We had a family that moved into our neighborhood from San Jose and they still work over there and one day we realized that one of their pipes in the front yard broke – Bob went over there and did what he could to stop it and then when they came home from work they talked to us and we figured it out,” Klingman said. “The next day they went to work and talked to their friends about how at their new home the neighbors actually talk to one another – that’s what this event is all about is making that possible.”

Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal, who visited several parties on Tuesday night, echoed Klingman’s sentiments. 

“National Night Out brings the community together working hand-in-hand with law enforcement to keep our neighborhoods crime free,” Dhaliwal said. “I enjoy seeing residents celebrating National Night Out together and engaging with their representatives and their first responders. 

“Everybody is working together to keep the bad guys away.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.