St. Joseph Police Chief Pete Jansky hands out pencils and chats with residents Aug. 7 during a National Night Out gathering in the St. Joseph Mobile Home Community.
Bryson Lamont, 10, of St. Joseph, poses after a successful plunge down a water slide Aug. 7.
Residents in the 200 block of Able Street in St. Joseph united for a block party Aug. 7. Ray Sjogren puts cheese on some of the hamburgers during the event.
Residents enjoy the shade and chat during an ice cream social held in celebration of National Night Out Aug. 7.
Angelo Armstrong laughs after riding a water slide Aug. 7 during a National Night Out event in St. Joseph
by TaLeiza Calloway firstname.lastname@example.orgThe nice thing about a block party is it’s accessible by walking out your front door and into your yard or driveway. Several groups of neighbors enjoyed that luxury in celebration of the 29th annual National Night Out Aug. 7.
St. Joseph Police Chief Pete Jansky said several years ago he would attend one community gathering as part of the nationwide celebration designed to strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships. This year there were three events held. He was glad to see interest growing in town.
Jansky said it’s a way for residents to interact with law enforcement and ask questions. A popular one is “Can I try out your taser?”
The longest-running event takes place in the St. Joseph Mobile Home Community. Scott Albrecht, manager of the residential community, said he and his wife, Rose, have organized the event for five years. Food, beverages and door prizes are given. About 30 residents showed up this year.
“It’s a way to get people out,” Albrecht said. “It’s important for you to know who your neighbors are. And the police department comes and sometimes the fire department.”
Attending the gathering has become a tradition for Kareen Armstrong and her family.
“We’ve come every year we’ve lived here,” Armstrong said. “It’s fun.”
Bryson Lamont, was all about the waterslide. His friends and siblings cheered loudly as the 10-year-old splashed at the end of the slide.
Residents of the 200 block of Able Street marked their second year for hosting a block party. Brian Murphy and Monica Coffell organized the event. Murphy says he remembers a time when there were hardly any children living in his neighborhood. To see the varying ages at the event was a nice sign of growth.
Originally an idea to unite and meet new people, Ann Theisen suggested having it again this year on Aug. 7 since it’s a date many remember.
“It’s important to know your neighbors,” Theisen said. “The children love playing together.”One of the ways to help meet new people was through a game of human bingo. Instead of filling a row of numbers, they had to find people who matched characteristics on the board.
Murphy also came up with the idea to give out “Neighbor Awards.” For example, when a dove made Audrey and Ken Twits’s flower bed its home, they didn’t evict the bird. They replanted the flower bed so the dove could survive. The Twits received the “Dove Conservation Award” Aug. 7. Other awards included the “Most Improved House” and “Prettiest Garden.”
The block party is held in their backyard. It would be a bit hard for them not to attend since it’s so close, Audrey said with a smile.
“It just feels good getting to know your neighbors,” Audrey Twit said. “Everyone helps everyone.”
Fourteen blocks away, Laurie Vogel, Joyce Louwogie and Valerie Zabloski hosted an ice cream social for neighbors. This was the second year they’ve organized it and are already pondering ideas for next year’s event. Between 40 and 50 people attended last year.
All agree that it’s a good way to meet your neighbors. There’s also a sense of security knowing there’s someone looking out for you.
“It provides a sense of community,” Zabloski said.
Louwogie has lived n St. Joseph for six years. With busy schedules, it can be hard to socialize sometimes. The gathering allows her to also meet residents who have lived in the community longer.
“It’s wonderful,” Joyce said. “It gets you out of auto-pilot mode.”.