August 6, 2008

Residents Observe National Night Out

By Lance Crenshaw, Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M.

Aug. 6--CARLSBAD -- More than 30 people from different neighborhoods around the city volunteered their homes for block parties in an effort to better know their neighbors during "National Night Out" celebrations Tuesday.

The event, which was sponsored by the prevention and intervention group of the Carlsbad Community Anti-Drug and Gang Coalition, is in its third year. Also sponsoring the event are Devon Energy and the Carlsbad Elks Club.

"National Night Out" involves citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials from more than 10,000 communities in North America and overseas military bases.

"We feel like neighborhoods need to be more connected, and National Night

Haile Estrada takes a swing during a National Night Out celebration Tuesday off of Chico Street. Celebrations took place in Carlsbad at approximately 40 different locations throughout the city. (Kyle Marksteiner/Current-Argus)

Out gives citizens a chance to interact with law enforcers and first responders," said Eve Flanigan, the overall program manager of the coalition. "Research has shown that when people know their neighbors and feel safe walking through their neighborhoods, crime decreases and people of all ages are

generally healthier."

Officers from the Carlsbad Police Department attended the gatherings in neighborhoods around the city, and gave lessons on specific skills training to residents.

"We want to send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are fighting back against crime," Flanigan said. "The skills training people received will help them when they are faced with a situation of crime in their neighborhood. We really appreciate how the police department has stepped up and helped the community of Carlsbad be more aware of criminal activities."

The event has been held the first Tuesday in August for the last three years, and Carlsbad has seen growth in the number of participants. There were only four people who volunteered their homes for the block parties in the event's first year, but that number skyrocketed to 25 last year.

"I can't say enough good things about our preventive action groups who made this possible," Flanigan said. "It really speaks out to the city that people want to get involved."

Tom and Vicki Goff, who hosted about 35 people at a block party on Chico Street, wanted to become better acquainted with their neighbors.

"I passed out invitations to people around our block, and I just thought it would be nice to get to know our neighbors and the people we live close to," Vicki Goff said. "We have lived here for seven years, and we didn't know everyone in our neighborhood. The block party gave us a chance to meet people we see everyday."

The Goffs, who hosted the party across the street at the residence of Chris and Joyce Bird, made it an exciting night for the neighborhood children with a game of water baseball. The Goffs also prepared hot dogs and hamburgers for residents in the area.

"We just asked everyone to bring a lawn chair and a side dish," Vicki Goff said. "It's just nice to have a couple of burgers and visit with the neighbors."

Carlsbad celebrations ranged from smaller gatherings of five to 10 people to large parties with more than 100.

"We know we are doing a good job by connecting people in neighborhoods," Flanigan said. "When people spend time talking to their neighbors, they feel a connection, and they are prideful of the city they live in."


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