In an effort to build community and prevent crime, the City of Richmond celebrated the 27th annual National Night Out Tuesday with block parties throughout the city. The city joined 35 million citizens around the country in celebration.
Police officers and firefighters visited 24 different neighborhoods across Richmond that were holding block parties. City officials including Police Chief Chris Magnus, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, City Manager Bill Lindsay and Fire Chief Michael Banks attended the kick-off ceremony and party held at the Target Store on Macdonald Avenue.
The event offered music performances by The East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, free hot dogs and hamburgers, and an appearance by the Richmond Fire Department‘s demo unit, which showed kids what to do in case of a fire. A bounce house and the free face-painting clowns were also very popular.
“What a pleasure it is to know that our crime prevention is working in the city of Richmond. This is a tribute to a collective effort in the city,” said Mayor McLaughlin, referring to the city’s decreasing crime rate. “People are working together and the city needs more of that.”
For Chief Chris Magnus, the event was a great opportunity for residents to connect with the police, because “really we solve crimes through relationship-building,” he said. Magnus also mentioned the importance of neighbors working together to help prevent crime. “The police can’t be everywhere all the time, so it pays to have in the neighborhood folks that are looking out for each other.”
Additionally, Fire Chief Banks said, “National Night out gives us an opportunity to send our message of fire safety throughout the city.”
Other community organizations and business were also represented at the Target parking lot block party. For instance, nonprofit Building Blocks for Kids, the Contra Costa County Conflict Resolution Program and Target all had tables at the event, where people were giving out information about their organizations and handing out trinkets.
City officials were also available to talk with residents. The elected officials left, however, to go on a community caravan along with police officers and firefighters to tour some of the other neighborhood block parties throughout the city. The tour gave the police officers an opportunity to get reacquainted with the residents of their beat. As residents heard the sirens of police cars and fire engines approaching their party, they clapped in excitement.
Each neighborhood found its own way to connect with the community, and each party had its own feel. The Marina Bay block party at 1 Marina Lakes Drive set out tables hosted by the different condominium committees from the complex and encouraged residents to visit so people could walk around and get information on the different committees. They had cookies, coffee and fliers with information.
The Richmond Heights block party at Tiller Park organized a potluck with music, hot dogs and kids’ attractions such as a face-painting fairy and residents dressed up as cartoon characters Winnie the Pooh, Gossamer and Belle (from The Beauty and the Beast.)
“It’s good to see everyone in the community getting together and having a good time and see the police and fire department too,” said Belle, played by neighborhood resident Elizabeth Thompson. “It is a lot of fun.”
“Anytime you bring people together is important,” said Michael Rogers, a Richmond Heights resident. “When police get to talk with the neighbors, I think it’s great.”