Alamedans celebrate National Night Out

Alamedans celebrate National Night Out

Cassie Paton
National Night Out

Residents at the Atlantic Apartments were among the celebrants of National Night Out. Photo by Cassie Paton.

Residents who gathered at 20 locations throughout the City of Alameda on Tuesday were among the nearly 38 million people celebrating National Night Out.

Now in its 31st year, National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that takes place across the country, in U.S. territories, some Canadian cities, and military bases around the world. Its purpose is to unite communities and promote stronger relationships between residents and police.

Participating for the first time, the Atlantic Apartments on the 1800 block of Poggi Street attracted nearly 200 neighbors, community organizers said. The festivities included racing games, a DJ and an inflatable slide for the kids.

The Marina Village Yacht Harbor celebration at Gate 9 was a bit smaller but no less festive, as live-aboard residents barbecued and chatted with Mayor Trish Spencer, Fire Chief Doug Long and Police Chief Paul Rolleri who, along with several members of the police force and other prominent community members, were making the rounds at several locations throughout the evening.

“It’s rare to see this group together,” Spencer said. “That’s why this is so important.”

Event organizer Heidi Benson Stagg, who lives full-time on her boat in the harbor, said watching out for one another is especially important in her water-based community.

“Our concerns are different from people living in regular homes,” Stagg said. “We depend on each other.”

Long said National Night Out is an important way for neighbors to come together and get to know one another, and that by attending the events himself, he says, “we get to hear concerns we don’t normally hear” from the community.

Rolleri echoed those sentiments, also addressing the negative press surrounding police forces in many parts of the country.

“It’s never been more important for the police department to be out engaging with the community,” Rolleri said. “We hope that (an event like this) will make people feel more comfortable coming to us when things arise.”

The other hope is that as a result, neighbors will keep an eye out for one another.

“You take better care of people you know,” Rolleri said. “Tomorrow, neighbors will actually say 'hi' to each other.”