By Ruthanne Johnson
MONTE VISTA— On the evening of Tuesday, Aug. 7, Monte Vista residents were invited to Chapman Park for the community’s “National Night Out” celebration. The event— hosted by Monte Vista, the Monte Vista Police Department and the local Neighborhood Watch chapter— was aimed at helping residents get to know each other as well as the city’s police officers, firefighters, EMTs, hazmat specialists and other city workers.
The Neighborhood Watch National Night Out is celebrated in all 50 states with some 16,000 communities typically participating. “Neighbors knowing neighbors,” said Monte Vista Police Chief John Rosecrans, “is one of the most effective ways to prevent crime.” It was also hoped that folks who attended would lock their doors and turn on their outside lights as additional crime prevention tools.
City Councilor Kathy Lorenz helped organize the event and said the turnout exceeded her expectations at some 250 people.
The event offered good music, free burgers and hot dogs, drinks and games for everyone, such as a dunk tank in which some police officers and city councilors participated in good nature. There were also plenty of opportunities throughout the evening for folks to mingle with Monte Vista’s public servants, who were there in uniform and with official vehicles. Neighborhood Watch volunteers had a table offering information about how an active citizen network helps to reduce community crimes.
Attendees seemed especially drawn to the city’s volunteer firefighters, who answered questions about their job. Firefighters Greg Castro and Aaron Garcia, for example, shared how their truck holds about 600 gallons of water and how the fire hose can reach up to 2,000 feet. “Most people don’t know about the training we do,” said Castro. ‘Like playing dodgeball in full gear, which weighs about 75 pounds.”
Besides a good turnout, the event seemed to foster a genuine feeling of community and cooperation. There were lots of “hellos,” “how are yous” and “good to see yous.”