Outer East Portland neighbors celebrate National Night Out in record numbers

Take a look at our “tour”, as we crisscrossed outer East Portland, visiting all of the National Night Out against Crime events …

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The idea behind National Night Out against Crime (NNO) is simple: When neighbors come together and socialize, they tend to look out for one another. As neighbors become less isolated and form community bonds, it makes it more difficult for criminals to succeed at their dastardly enterprises.

For most neighborhoods, NNO is their premiere networking event – from family potluck dinners to big barbecue dinners.

Saturday, August 4

Oregon Baptist Retirement Home and the Parkrose Neighborhood Association held their events on this date.

Oregon Baptist Retirement Home

Many of the attractions at this particular venue is the cruise-in. This classic Mercedes was a favorite.

“This event is a community outreach of our retirement home,” said Lou Fontana. “It brings folks in from around the neighborhood to share the facilities with them. We offer a $2 barbecue lunch.”

On the grill with the white hat is Steve Williams, administrator of Johnson Assisted Living.

This was the only NNO event that features a cruise-in. “We have about 70 cars today; all kinds of specialty vehicles: Classics, muscle cars, antiques – a little bit of everything,” Fontana told us.

The event attracted over 1,000 visitors.

Portland Police Mounted Officer Angela Hollan makes friends while astride Ian, a pure-bred Belgian. The Mounted Patrol visited many NNO events across East Portland.

Firefighter from Portland Fire & Rescue Station 2, Christopher Invester, makes friends with Kaitlyn Lee.

Parkrose Neighborhood Association
At Senn’s Dairy Park; NE 112th Ave & Prescott St.

Burgerville’s Amanda Stewart takes a break from serving sandwiches to talk with event coordinator Mary Walker, and neighborhood chair Marcy Emerson-Peters.

“Welcome to our annual neighborhood picnic,” smiled neighbhorhood chair, Marcy Emerson-Peters. “We’ve got cold sandwiches and all the lunch fixin’s for people to enjoy, for just a buck.”

While the adults enjoyed the music and conversation, the kids favored playing in the sprinkler on a hot summer afternoon – along with Marcy Emerson-Peters.

“We love our neighbors – this is our way of showing it,” Emerson-Peters added.

Sunday, August 5

Powellhurst-Gilbert neighbors

This more informal potluck dinner in Powellhurst Gilbert has the feel of a big family picnic – but without the ants and the squabbling!

Today, we stopped by to visit with neighbors in Powellhurst-Gilbert area for their National Night Out gathering on SE 119th Ave.

“This is our second year,” commented organizer Carol Thornberry. “Many of the neighbors enjoyed it so much last year, they said they wanted to do it gain this year.”

At this casual gathering, about 50 neighbors brought treats and put together a treat-looking pot-luck dinner.

“By doing this,” Thornberry said, “we know who we’re waving at when they go by. We say hello when we meet at the store. It’s really nice to feel the sense of togetherness.”

Tuesday, August 7

Centennial Community Group, Harold Oliver and SUN Schools
At Harold Oliver Middle School

Cynthia Thomas, Mayor Tom Potter, his wife Karin Hansen, and Jackie Jaffe – at the big Centennial Community Group event.

Our first stop on our whirlwind tour of outer East Portland’s National Night Out events was to visit the big event put together by coordinator Jackie Jaffe, Metro Family Service, SUN coordinator at Harold Oliver primary.

“We’re having shows, bands, a Mexican dance troupe – and we’re giving out hot dog dinners,” said Jaffe.

She said they made the effort because “here in this area, people feel pretty disfranchised. It seems like people have ‘boarded themselves up’ in their homes. This event draws people out into the community so they get to know their neighbors, and feel more comfortable living in our community. Not enough this happens out here. I wanted to help start his process.”

We were surprised and pleased to see Portland Mayor Tom Potter at the event, which drew about 500 adults and kids.

“National Night Out is really about neighbors getting together with neighbors,” Potter told us. “When neighbors get to know one another, they look out for each other; this helps prevent crime. It makes neighborhoods safe. It shows people that people that they feel responsible for their community. It scares off crime.”

Wilkes Community Group and Russell Neighborhood Association
At Wilkes Park

About 400 neighbors from these two neighborhoods gathered for their annual barbecue, which featured sirloin steak burgers.

Wilkes Community Group chair Ross Monn told us the neighborhood volunteers again were putting on a first-class event.

“I wanted to be part of the celebration and show my community spirit,” said volunteer Sheryl Reinisch. “You get to meet your neighbors and establish more relationships and get to know people better.”

Ross Monn, Chair, and volunteer Sheryl Reinisch together call the neighbors to dinner.

Paul Capell and Joe Clifton, cooking up sirloin steak burgers at the Wilkes NNO.

Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors
At Knott Park

Carol Williams, Chair, welcomes James Cash and Arabelle “Sam” Fliniau to the NNO event in Knott Park.

“Thanks for coming by,” welcomed neighborhood chair Carol Williams. “It’s our National Night Out celebration! It’s a good thing for everybody to get together, get information, and meet their neighbors.”

Serving hot dogs are neighborhood volunteers Allison Newman-Woods and Stephanie Viegas-Dias.

Alexander Viegas, getting the balloon from Steevie Weevie (he’s the one with the more colorful outfit).

Argay Neighborhood Association
At Argay Park

Volunteer Jan Cornelius, here serving Burgerville burgers to Nancy and Don Humphries.

“It’s a great event,” commented neighborhood chair Valerie Currey. “It looks like we’ll have about 475 attending.”

Highlights included a visit from SpongeBob SquarePants (aka 88-year-old Evelyn Benson); Burgerville’s Tillamook cheeseburgers; and the participation of Target stores, which donated gift cards and sent six volunteers to help out.

The popular Kooltones, a classic soft rock band, performed for the fifth consecutive year.

Valerie Curry checks in neighbors at the Argay shindig.

Kenneth Vernon is presented an honorary Portland Police Bureau badge by East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs.

Hazelwood neighbors
On NE 111th Ave. near NE Oregon St.

Denine Foote, and her neighbors from the surrounding three blocks, enjoys the classic rock music of the band Cover Dawgz.

It’s not hosted by any neighborhood association, but this Hazelwood National Night Out party seems to grow every year.

“This year we’ve expanded it,” said organizer Denine Foote. “We included residents from three blocks, from NE 110th Avenue through NE 112th Avenue along NE Oregon Street.”

Their musical potluck affair drew about 30 mellow neighbors.

Woodland Park Neighborhood Association
On NE 101st Ave.

Glen and Laura Heiner pull out another winning ticket at their neighborhood NNO party drawing.

Each year, the NNO party in Woodland Park grows larger, as more neighbors participate.

“I also hosted our National Night Out party last year,” Laura Heiner told us. “All year long, I’ve had more people asking if I was going to host it again. They ask, ‘When is it? Will you be serving those great pulled pork sandwiches?’ It is great they are looking forward to this event.”

This barbecue and potluck drew nearly 100 neighbors, Heiner reported.

Mill Park Neighborhood Association
On SE 113th Ave at SE Yamhill St.

Tending the three (3) grills at the Mill Park festivities are Leslie Catabay, Karl Moody and Todd Baker.

“We decided to make simple food this year – burgers and dogs,” reports Todd Baker, as he takes a break from his grilling duties. “We’ve got a musician again this year. You might say our theme is ‘Simple fun with neighbors’.”

Portland Fire & Rescue’s firefighter Neil Martin, shows neighborhood kids around Engine 7. Fire engines and trucks visited most of the gathering this year for, at least, a short time.

Mill Park neighbors
On SE Mill Court

Jackie Putman (lower right hand corner) and her neighbors share a quiet celebration in their Mill Park a cul-de-sac.

“This is our fourth year for participating in National Night Out,” Jackie Putman said. When you live in a cul-de-sac with front porches, you don’t always see everyone. This gets people out and helps us update our phone-tree list. And, it’s just fun to visit.”

About 25 neighbors came out for a quiet evening of outdoor dining and conversation.

Lents Neighborhood Association
At Lents Park on SE 92nd Ave.

Amber Lane scoops ice cream at the Lents Neighborhood Association’s Ice Cream Social.

As the sun was setting behind the tall trees at Lents Park, the picnic area facing SE 92nd Avenue was swirling with neighbors. We asked organizer Judy Welch how it was going. She replied, “I’ll be back; we’ve got to get more ice cream!”

Over 300 Lents community members and surrounding neighbors came out to Lents Park to enjoy the old-fashioned Ice Cream Social, greet one another, and mingle with visiting cops.

At the Lents National Night Out, John and Judy Welch, Officer Tony Passadore, Officer Mark DeLong, and Shawndrae Norwood give us a smile, in front of the Portland Police Bureau’s Mobile Precinct.

We learned that a group planned to meet at the facility on SE Lafayette Street – but at the last minute, the facility withdrew permission. They were then invited to attend the big celebration at Lents Park – and did!  They shared their hamburgers and hot dogs; and in return, got free ice cream.

Community service groups, such as the folks from ROSE Community Development, were on hand to tell of their community services.

“Many people stopped by information tables for Lents Neighborhood Association, Portland Park Rangers, Portland Development Commission, Lents Homeownership Initiative, Portland Water Bureau, the Neighborhood Emergency Team, and our booth for ROSE Community Development,” explained their community organizer, Amie Diffenauer.

Their event was sponsored by some of those with the informational tables, including the Lents Homeownership Initiative, ROSE Community Development, Lents Neighborhood Association, and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement

Powellhurst Gilbert neighbors
On SE Woodward St.

Shannon and Luis Morales, Mary Walker, Debbie Chin, Ivan Morales and Jay Auslander share good times at their neighborhood gathering in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

The fact their neighborhood association doesn’t organize an “official” National Night Out event doesn’t stop our friends out on SE Woodward Street from having their own gathering. It’s almost dark by the time we get there.

“We’re just getting started,” says Shannon Morales as she offers us a snack. “It’s good because everyone gets together. This annual event gives us a mental picture of the people who are supposed to be here. It keeps us safer. And, we have fun!”

Thank you all for welcoming us as we visited your event – if only for a few moments, making our East County rounds!

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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