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A Night Out fighting crime in Orland
National Night Out means more to the people of Orland than most will ever know.
Tuesday's annual event was more than just a neighborhood block party, but an opportunity for residents to come together and learn about ways to get involved in protecting their communities.
With a strong presence of local law enforcement and firefighters, Orland's fourth National Night Out brought attention to neighborhood cooperation in fighting crime while providing visitors with information, food and fun.
"In today's busy society, people live in a bubble," said Orland Chief of Police J.C. Tolle. "This gets people out and mingling. It is a great way to bring the community together."
Tolle said the Orland Volunteers in Police Service did an excellent job in organizing National Night Out, which brought hundreds to Library Park to enjoy good music, good food and the chance to interact in a positive environment.
And while there were plenty of pizza and hot dogs to go around, the real goal of the event was to strengthen community spirit.
"It's a great family event," said Jackie Applebee. "It gets the kids out of the house for awhile and it's a lot of fun."
Last year, 37 million people in the United States, Canadian cities, American territories and military bases participated in National Night Out events, according to the National Association of Town Watch, who organized the first event 29 years ago.
The event allowed Orland residents to interact and exchange information with neighbors and their first responders and, at the same time, send a powerful message to criminals that Orland citizens, its business people and its agencies are organized and willing to fight back against crime.
National Night Out also sent a powerful message to young people.
After a turn at the fire hose with Orland volunteer firefighter Eddie Martinez, 6-year-old Manuel Ortiz said he wanted to become a fireman when he grows up and put out a real fire.
"Or a policeman or a superhero," he said.
Gregory Gebhart, 13, said he was a bit dizzy after trying to drive an obstacle course for Orland police Officer Sean Johnson, wearing DUI simulation goggles.
He steered a perfect course the first time through a cone maze without the goggles, but ran overmore than one cone as a "drunken" driver the second time around.
"That was intense," he said. "It was fun, and I learned a lot. Don't drink and drive."
In addition to the Orland Police and Fire departments, the California Highway Patrol and the Glenn County Sheriff's Department, a number of community organizations helped make the celebration complete.
The band Northern Heat was a huge draw to Tuesday's event, and had dozens of people relaxing in the shade and tapping their feet to the beat.
"The band really makes a difference," said new Orland Round Table Manager Heather Mendes. "It draws people in. People come down, have a good time and they stay."
CONTACT Susan Meeker at 934-6800 or email@example.com.