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Turlockers party together in annual night out event
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A father helps his son hula hoop his way to a win during a friendly competition with other kids at Columbia Park during a National Night Out event on Tuesday evening. - photo by NANCY ANGEL / The Journal

Turlockers turned on their porch lights, locked their front doors and joined their neighbors for National Night Out on Tuesday evening.  Neighborhoods across the city held block parties and were visited by police and fire department officials.

“This is the third year we’ve held a block party at our residence,” said April Walker, who helped organize her block party on Sunshine Way.  “We try to put this event together to tighten the relationships we have with our neighbors.  It’s also an incentive to watch out for one another.”

National Night Out is designed to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local anticrime efforts, strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships.

“This year we brought a balloon artist to entertain the kids and added an inflatable water slide.  Every year our block parties are better because we are more prepared and organized for the upcoming ones,” said Walker.

In 2011, Turlock won an award from the National Association of Town Watch for an exceptional third year of participation in the program. Turlock residents sponsored 17 block parties and received visits from Turlock Police officers, Turlock Fire staff, city officials, McGruff the Crime Dog, California State University, Stanislaus Police, and several other guests.

Residents of Columbia Street were not the exception when it came to getting acquainted with their neighbors on Tuesday, as Turlock Recreation hosted a National Night Out party at Columbia Park.  About a hundred residents joined in the fun with streaming music, activities for kids and visits from law enforcement.

“National Night Out is an important event for us to host,” said Parks and Recreation Manager Allison Van Guilder.  “We are doing this in an effort to motivate other Turlock residents to host their own block parties.”

Representatives from the Turlock Police Department also visited the event and mingled with community members.

“This event serves as a great opportunity for the community to interact with the police department and city officials,” said Officer Argueta from the Turlock Police Department.