Residents celebrate National Night Out

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The cloudy skies appeared to promise rain Aug. 6, but Mother Nature held off and few if any drops fell on the more than two dozen National Night Out gatherings held in Englewood.

One of the earliest to start was in the 3400 block of South Broadway and was promoted by the Greater Englewood Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Ted’s Custom Clothes, the Breakfast Queen and A and A Cycles. Local merchants, residents and people walking by stopped to have a free bite to eat. Mayor Randy Penn was in attendance for a short time as were a number of members of the police department, including Sgt. Tim Englert, Officer Kevin Sage, Commander Sam Watson and Tony Arnoldy, police community relations specialist.

The police made a point to greet and talk to people as Arnoldy urged them to move quickly so they could try to visit all the National Night Out events in the city.

For example, they stopped by the block party in the 3100 block of South Humbolt Street. About 5:30 p.m., neighbors began gathering and bringing dishes for the annual National Night Out event and potluck dinner hosted by Lee Sanchez and his wife.

“We have been hosting the night out party for six or seven years. There is a lot to do like getting the city permit to block off the street. But it isn’t all that much work and we always have fun putting on the event,” Sanchez said. “We like to have this event so we can greet friends and meet new people in the neighborhood.”

Aaron Doxey was one of their new neighbors.

“I have been here a little more than a year but this is the first night out event I have attended,” he said. “I think this event is awesome. I live here but everyone is coming and going so we just usually smile and wave. Tonight I am getting to meet the people from the neighborhood and it is good to know these aren’t just empty houses. Also, the food is very good.”

This is the 29th year the National Association of Town Watch has sponsored and promoted the event it calls the nation’s night out against crime. The program’s goal is to urge people to come out of their homes, meet their neighbors and strengthen local anti-crime efforts.

Events were as varied as the people hosting them. For example, while Kim Pittman had six people accept his invitation to join him on the patio for homemade peach ice cream, a few blocks away there was a live band, volunteers cooking hot dogs and hamburgers, an inflatable bounce house and more than 50 people at the Englewood Bible Church.

“It is so nice Englewood Bible Church puts on this event each year,” Eva Moss said as she stood in line for a hot dog, hot off the grill. “We live in the neighborhood but we don’t go to church here. That doesn’t seem to matter, as everyone always welcomes us like we were dear friends. It is a nice event and we appreciate the church putting it on.”