Wednesday, August 3, 2005

National Night Out fun, educational for all

From Daily Republic // Aug. 3, 2005

By Audrey Wong

SUISUN CITY - Rayonna, 6, and Raheim, 2, frolicked Monday as their mother, Sharise Allen, gathered information about their safety.

The family participated in the National Night Out celebration at Patriot Park. Raheim enjoyed the bounce house while Rayonna sat in a squad car. The youngsters also practiced calling 911.

Allen said she appreciated that she could fingerprint and photograph her children and store their information in a database in case anything happens to them. She also gathered pamphlets on CPR, drunken driving and other topics.

"I think it's a great idea, it's very informative," Allen said of the event. "Kids can also come and run around and just be kids."

The event drew between 700 to 1,000 people, said Joanne Ledford, community services specialist for the Suisun City Police Department.

The National Association of Town Watch sponsors National Night Out. The event is designed to heighten crime prevention, strengthen neighborhood bonds and support anti-crime efforts.

This was the first year the department celebrated at its new Burdick Center in Patriot Park. A helicopter ambulance landed at the park for crowds to inspect. Boys piled into the Solano County Sheriff's Humvee while other youngsters admired the new Suisun police car.

Other Neighborhood Watch Groups held smaller block parties throughout the region. Denizens of the Jasmine Street watch group socialized and feasted on a warm August evening.

Watch group captain George Locatelli estimated nearly 70 people gathered at the home of Sam Shasky. The party is a way to bond with neighbors, especially new ones, Locatelli said.

During the festivities, Fairfield Mayor Karin MacMillan, Fairfield Police Chief Bill Gresham and other dignitaries showed up. Nicolle Fairchild presented Capt. Christian Williams of Travis Air Force Base with 580 messages she collected for troops in Iraq.

Jasmine Street residents have celebrated National Night Out for 22 years, Locatelli said.

Neighbors care for each other, he said. About three years ago, Locatelli noticed two men inspecting Shasky's van. He called an officer over and later learned the two suspicious characters had warrants for their arrests.

"We're nosy neighbors - we watch out for each other," Locatelli said. "If you head off to work and leave the garage door open, we'll close it for you."

Reach Audrey Wong at 427-6951 or

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