Hollister families mingled with local law enforcement on Tuesday at National Night Out, an annual community-building event that brings public safety officers and neighbors together with local agencies and organizations.
“It’s awesome,” said Sonny Flores, as his six-year-old son, Jimmy Rodriguez, sat behind the wheel of an off-road vehicle at the California State Parks booth. “It gets us out of the house and the kids get to interact with all the police officers and fire chief.”
Held along San Benito Street in downtown Hollister during the early evening hours, National Night Out featured jump houses, emergency response vehicles on display, exhibits and information from agencies such as First 5 San Benito County and Hollister Police Animal Care and Services.
The event also gave emergency responders the opportunity to give Hollister families important public safety information.
“We are here to spread the word to kids and adults alike about fire safety,” said Mel Nielsen, Hollister Fire Department engineer. Nielsen said there are simple things families can do to prevent fire at home. “They can change the batteries in their smoke detectors, clean the vents at the back of dryers and we see a lot of older barbecues catch on fire, which can easily spread. Usually there are safety mechanisms on newer models, but not on the older ones.”
At the California Highway Patrol booth, officers passed out stickers and spread the word about driver safety.
“Seat belts are a big one. We still see people without seat belts,” said officer Will Meyers. “Also stay off the cell phone when you are driving.”
The California Highway Patrol area office in Gilroy offers car seat inspections.
“As a rule, if you don’t know where the car seat came from – like you bought it at a garage sale – get rid of it, or get it inspected,” said Manny Salinas, commercial vehicle inspector specialist.
Over at the silly photo booth, sisters Deysi and Itzel Santiago were having a great time.
“I like it because we get to have fun together,” said ten-year-old Deysi.
Assemblywoman Anna Caballero was also spotted strolling San Benito Street.
“National Night Out is a very important event for me,” said Caballero. “I did violence prevention programs and anything you can do to make the community aware of community services and opportunities is really important. So I’m here and trying to make as many of these events throughout the district.”
After stopping in Hollister Caballero was off to Morgan Hill and Gilroy.
“Hollister and San Juan Bautista are really strong communities with a lot of community spirit. They have a lot of volunteers, people who care. I am proud to represent this area but I also want to participate as much as possible. The more we get involved, the better the community is.”
Overall, the event was a success.
“Highlights for us are interacting with the community, especially the kids,” said Hollister Police Department Sergeant Don Pershall. “We also want to get the message across that we want to be partners with the community in servicing their needs. We run into a lot of community members that are helpful and take an active role in helping us solve and prevent crime and that is what this event is all about.”