Residents, community leaders and law enforcement from around the country stood together for the 35th annual National Night Out on Oct. 2.
The city of Leander hosted 38 simultaneous block parties and more than 3,000 local residents met with neighbors, police officers, firefighters and city officials. National Night Out is especially important for Leander Police and Fire Departments, because it reinforces a true sense of community.
“National Night Out is a celebration of our police and community relationships,” said Asst. Chief Jeff Hayes. “Strong neighborhoods help maintain a high quality of life in our community. This year’s successful National Night Out is evidence of the positive relationship we have been able to develop with Leander citizens. We can’t provide police services without the help of the public and National Night Out is an opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and develop new ones.”
Overall, residents, party hosts, city officials and members of the police and fire departments reinforced the same overall themes of community and support for local law enforcement.
This year marked Leander City Council Member Christine Sederquist’s first year participating in National Night Out as a city official.
“I think National Night Out reminds people to come together and be part of the community,” she said. “Having an event like this is awesome for Leander because it brings us together and bonds us as neighbors.”
Party hosts Isabel Botaw and Jolie Daniels threw a gettogether at the Lakeline Ranch neighborhood.
“I enjoy the community coming together,” said Botaw. “It’s fun and meeting different neighbors you haven’t met before is always nice.”
“We’ve heard “it’s so good to see you again,” three or four different times tonight,” said Daniels. “People who don’t see each other in the normal hustle and bustle get to see each other tonight.”
Mayor Pro Tem Michelle Stephenson said she came out for the officers and residents of Leander.
“National Night Out is face-to-face time with our first responders,” she said. “I think that is the best way for our citizens to really connect with them, learn about who they are, that they’re human, that they’re funny and that they’re not these scary characters. Leander has a really great police force, I love them all.”
Mason Hills party host Addiana Sassman said she enjoyed the relationships built during the evening, especially between the youth of the community and first responders.
“I love getting to meet neighbors I may not be able to meet on a regular basis,” she said. “This offers a more casual environment where the kids have a little bit more freedom and parents are able to mingle. It’s also great for the kids to meet the first responder so they’re comfortable and familiar with them should they ever need to interact with them.”
Sabina Peerbhai, a resident of Mason Hills, took her young son Kai Jivani, 4, to enjoy the festivities.
“National Night Out allows us to know who our neighbors are,” she said. “We’re a new community here. Not many of us know who our neighbors are. There’s a lot of house going up every day here.”
Hawke’s Landing resident Rob Gilbert said he’s enjoyed cooking for neighbors and hosting parties for 3 years.
“We enjoy it because this is a new subdivision, so we get to know all of our neighbors,” he said. “We don’t get to hang out as much with everyone’s busy schedules and everything so today, we get to know everyone. We’ve set up a neighborhood contact list to help each other out too.”
Mayor Troy Hill dropped by for a party at the Westview Meadows neighborhood.
“I think any time you can get the neighborhood together and you share ideas about the neighborhood and the city, that’s always a good thing,” he said. “I want to say thank you to our police and staff. I think we have the best police force in Texas so I’m really happy we get to spend that time with them and say thank you.”
Steven White, a resident of Westview Meadows, said it was great to see law enforcement and citizens bonding.
“This is a major event,” White said. “It brings all the neighbors together and brings our community closer. It’s all for a great cause.”
Lieutenant Jackson Mitchell has worked with the Leander Police Department for 10 years and said he loves the warm feeling from his fellow staff and the city.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to go out and meet the citizens informally and talk about any issues they may have or just to share ideas with anything we can help them with,” he said. “This is one-on-one contact we don’t normally get to have with them. Our department has a family atmosphere. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere in the community itself. It’s not the hustle-and-bustle of Austin. Even though it’s getting bigger, it still has that small-town feel.”
With this year’s National Night Out a success, the bond between citizens and law enforcement grows stronger.