Created: 08/05/2014 7:28 PM KAALtv.com
By: Hannah Tran
(ABC 6 News) -- Every first Tuesday in August is National Night Out. It’s when residential communities throughout the country hold social events for everyone to get to know their neighbors.
"Safety is number one," said Jan Larson, a resident who has lived in Oronoco Estates for over a decade. Throughout that time, the neighborhood had several National Night Out events starting in 2007.
On a cold January night long ago, Larson’s father was around.
"The first year we lived here, we had my father living with us and he was getting dementia," said Larson.
He wandered off in the middle of the night, but a neighbor secured his safety.
"They called the office and were able to find us and get my father back safely to us," said Larson.
National Night Out is also a time to highlight the importance of getting to know your neighbors to improve safety and community involvement.
"There were neighbors who lived next door to each other who had never met each other, besides staying long enough to say 'hi' in the driveway," said Community Manager Kristy Cerutti, who reflected on her neighborhood years ago, before the events took place.
From 2007 to 2013, National Night Out events took place at the community’s park and playground.
"By actually giving them a place to sit, eat, and chat and feel comfortable with all their neighbors," said Cerutti.
But this year, she wants to try something new.
"So we thought we would try Friday night movie night and see if we can get more families involved," she said.
What was once a rough area is now a network of friendly faces, making plans with one another.
"In the last five or six years we've had an extremely low crime rate, we've had one or two incidences where we actually had to call the Sheriff's Department out," said Cerutti.
It’s that familiar face that makes a difference. Jan Larson says she knows the neighbors on every corner of her street.
"So, it's good to know your neighbors.”