The “out” portions of the evening included block parties such as the one held in front of Yildiz Karaibrahimoglu’s house on Torrey Pines Drive.
“I think it’s important that we live as a community,” said Karaibrahimoglu. “The people need to be connected. A house is just a thing; a community is the people who live inside.”
More than a dozen neighbors were on hand when the group was joined by the “about” portion of the evening, a caravan of city officials, including Mayor Bob Taylor, Police Chief Mark Evenson, and NNO organizer and Community Services Officer Michele Keady, who organized the city’s observances.
Evenson said the Neighborhood Watch groups, already very active in the city, have produced numerous success stories. A burglar arrested as the result of a Neighborhood Watch tip in May was a parolee in possession of a pillowcase and rubber gloves. “He was obviously prowling for another place to burglarize,” Evenson said. He added that four or five arrests came from such tips each year, and an undetermined number of other crimes were thwarted by officers arriving on scene before a crime was committed. Dana Rolnik, an Adams Middle School seventh-grader, said she helped decorate and host the NNO event for a couple of reasons.
“I’m in Leadership, and we have to help with community events like this as part of our grade,” she said. “But I like doing it because it’s fun.”
Neighbor Mee Lu Hwin’s approach to fun was simple: “Try the chicken.” Her homemade dish was only one offering that helped draw neighbors, all of whom benefit from knowing each other.
“We don’t have to worry when we go out of the house,” she said. “We know our neighbors are watching to help us stay safe.”
It’s also helpful for residents to get to know city officials, said Taylor: “It’s an asset to know that public officials and the police chief care enough to come out, and it enhances public awareness of public safety.”
A total of 16 events around the city were visited by city officials. Some, such as the one at the Summerset IV clubhouse, included extras like an art gallery, car show and music by the Delta Strummers. The bash has become an integral part of some residents’ social calendar.
“If they ever stop having National Night Out, we’ll probably keep doing this every year anyway because it’s fun, and it’s a good way to meet people who move in during the year,” said Carole Addison. “I suppose that’s what they had in mind all along.”