By Steve Bowman
Editor, The Brentwood Spirit
Brentwood seems to have embraced the new format for the annual National Night Out celebration. After years of holding it in one central place, this year residents were told to plan block parties throughout town. Most neighborhoods seemed game, as 10 such parties were held on the evening of Aug. 4, said Detective Craig Eisenbeis of the Brentwood Police Department.
A live band performed at one block party. A deejay entertained another. But for others it was simply a chance for neighbors to circle up their lawn chairs, roll a barbecue grill out front and enjoy potluck together while the kids played.
“This is fun,” said John Higgins as he tended hot dogs on a grill for about 30 of his neighbors on Eulalie Ave., just east of Helen Ave. “I think the last time we blocked off this street was in 1991.”
National Night Out is held in communities nationwide to foster police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood safety. It is sponsored here by the Brentwood Police Department. Eisenbeis said police officers visited all 10 block parties, along with firefighters and staff from Public Works, Parks and Recreation and City Hall. They gave away National Night Out items such as footballs, Frisbees and sunglasses. Public Works passed out water and ice cream.
The celebration has been held at Brentwood Swim Club for the past four years, at Brentwood Forest in 2009 and 2010 and at McGrath Elementary School before that.
“National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community, and it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances,” said Eisenbeis. “I have had positive remarks about the new format.”
The block parties gave residents a chance to come out of their air-conditioned houses and get to know their neighbors better on a mild summer evening. That was especially valuable for the residents on Stratford Lane, just south of Brentwood Middle School. The gathering of about two dozen people included both a woman who has lived there for 49 years and a man who moved in on Sunday.
“We’ve had three young families move in since Memorial Day,” said resident Ed Wright Jr.