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Block parties part of crime-fighting effort
David Roshan checks on the grill at this Siskiyou Lane National Night Out Party – where friends and neighbors all gathered in the front yard of one home while the kids got to play freely in the street. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
Vic Roblas didn’t mind cooking up enough hot dogs, hot links, and Lockeford sausages for his entire neighborhood on National Night Out Tuesday evening.

With access to Folsom Way blocked on both ends to allow neighbors to freely walk the area, a combination of parents relaxing in front of their homes or those of their neighbors and kids playing basketball without having to worry about traffic gave a very neighborly feel to the whole affair.

A Manteca Fire Department engine crew made a brief stop to chat with the residents who seemed to be flooding in more and more as the sun dipped further in the background. It gave those who planned the event by talking to other neighbors and getting a feel for how much would be needed the satisfaction of another successful National Night Out.

It was one of about 100 official and unofficial block parties across Manteca Tuesday evening. The idea was to get neighbors better acquainted with each other so they would become more attuned to anything amiss that could reflect criminal activity in the coming year.

“It’s one of those events where everyone getting together and the neighborhood coming together is the central theme, so we try to get a count early of how many people were coming and how many friends they were bringing,” said resident Hank Seramur – who will be taking over the planning duties from a longtime neighborhood resident moving to Oakdale. “It helps unite the neighborhood, and lets them get to know the new neighbors who have moved into the neighborhood.

“It also shows them that if they ever needed anything, they can count on their neighbors for help.”

Over on Siskiyou Lane behind Shasta Park, the neighbors there took a more concentrated approach to the National Night Out idea and had everything centrally located so that everybody got a chance to chat and catch up with everybody else. It was a stark contrast to the Folsom Way location where people were spread out.

“It’s a great chance to catch up with your neighbors because everybody is always so busy and you just end up waving as you pass each other on the street,” said organizer Tracy Cleghorn, who said that the event has been an annual one but this is the first that it has been registered with the Police Department. “We’ve had new neighbors move in and been able to befriend them and make them feel welcome, while almost everyone else knows everybody here.

“It’s really the only day of the year when everybody gets together.”