National Night Out

Albany is the first place I’ve lived that celebrates National Night Out by supporting block parties and other community gatherings.  My neighborhood has been participating for six or seven years, and I’m fairly sure I would not know many of my neighbors were it not for this annual activity.

Even though the houses on my block are close together, I have relatively few opportunities to interact with those who live around me.  Most of us drive in and out of our garages without pausing to talk and we tend to stay in our homes or backyards during our free time.  I go running early in the morning, and the only other time I’m usually in the front yard is to cut the grass and weed the flower beds.  We have a small yard, and these activities don’t take much time.  My next door neighbors took out their grass and replaced it with shrubs and mulch, so they are in their front yard even less than I’m in mine.

My large family keeps me busy with birthdays, youth sports, plays, musical recitals and church activities, to name a few.  Today, we are celebrating the birth of our newest grandson who was born late last night.  When you have a dozen grandchildren and more on the way, you never run short of things to do.  We were able to include seven of our grandchildren in this year’s National Night Out, and I joked with some of the neighbors that we didn’t really need anyone outside of our family to have a crowd at our event.

I believe our neighborhoods are safer and better places when we know each other and take the occasional opportunity to stay connected.  Our homes have become so comfortable that it’s easy to forget the advantages of getting out of them to know your neighbors.  I might never have known, for example, that many of my neighbors come from very different parts of the world.  On our block we have people from Wales, India, the Ukraine, Mexico, Germany, and China.  I believe we also have some folks from the Middle East, but they haven’t participated in the block party yet.

I greatly appreciate the good work of all City employees who contribute to this important event.  I assumed some responsibility for organizing our neighborhood’s activities this year, and I appreciated the help I received at Public Works with getting barriers for the street, plus the presence of the Police and Fire Departments at our gathering.  I think the fire truck did at least four or five laps around the block to accommodate all the children who wanted rides, and all of our grandchildren are still proudly wearing their police tattoos.  The Mayor organized a hot dog feed in her neighborhood and, judging from her Facebook postings, had great participation as well.  I know she shares my appreciation of everyone who helped make this important event happen.