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National Night Out brings community together in Lathrop
Ana Maria Burke hangs out while waiting for cotton candy Tuesday night at the National Night Out event at Lathrop City Hall. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

LATHROP – Michael Pereira had his hands full as he traversed the parking lot at Lathrop’s community National Night Out celebration Tuesday at City Hall.

With his son Jonah in his arms, Pereira took his time chatting with those who came out to the annual community gathering designed to promote neighborhood and community unity in the name of fighting crime.

While he wasn’t well versed in what the event was before coming, he couldn’t say enough good things about the event and the positive impacts he could actually see taking place.

“I think that it’s really cool that they have an event that brings people together and gives everyone the chance to get to know one another,” he said. “You get the chance to find out what’s going on in the community, and it’s good to meet people who live here in the same town.

“You get to build some of those neighborly relationships.”

Representatives from the City of Lathrop were on hand at the start of the event to chat with residents prior to going out into the community with members of the Lathrop City Council.

Local groups like the Lathrop Lions, Lathrop Youth Focus and the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District were also a big part of the event with their respective booths – distributing everything from hot dogs and cotton candy to popcorn and prizes.

Target also had a booth distributing sidewalk chalk.

For Darlene Gatto, who just moved back to Lathrop after living in Nebraska for four years, the event was a chance to soak in the small town atmosphere while working in the Lathrop Lions booth and getting to know as many people as possible.

“This is really my first year doing this. My husband was born and raised here, and I think that it’s a great event,” Gatto said while making popcorn. “This kind of brings out the small town feel and I think that it’s great. Everybody gets to know everybody else at an event like this, and it allows you to put faces with names.

“It only helps build that sense of community, and that seems to be what this is all about.”