FAIRFIELD — Three barbecue grills were kept busy at Bud and Aleny Tonneson’s Fairfield home Tuesday for National Night Out.
The grilling started at about 4:30 p.m. and went on for a few hours as neighbors, friends and relatives stopped by to chat and grab a bite of everything from chicken and hamburgers to venison and oysters.
Hosting the event brings Bud Tonneson happiness on two fronts – he gets to cook and, at the same time, make new friendships and renew others.
He guessed he’s been hosting National Night Out for four or five years. Aleny Tonneson thought it was a little longer than that. They’ve been in the house 22 years.
“It’s nice to get together with everyone,” said Lee Loveall, who wheeled his own grill into the Tonneson’s front yard to barbecue chicken.
Loveall has been in his home 33 years. His longest neighbor, he guessed, is the Fairfield Police Department.
Fairfield police and firefighters dropped by to visit. So did Sparky the Fire Dog, who happily posed for pictures with adults and children.
Off Peabody Road near Travis Air Force Base, Nate Nouwamey joined his neighbors in the Whitney Park subdivision where he’s lived for 1½ years.
“It helps you get to meet your neighbors,” he said the event. “It’s an opportunity to have fun with your neighbors.”
That locale offered contests. Nouwamey won the watermelon-eating competition, downing a quarter of one in about four minutes.
Youth in the area were able to try their hand at Game Truck, a mobile unit that brings video games to the doorstep.
In Suisun City, a few hundred people strolled Hall Park to celebrate National Night Out.
A crowd gathered around the California Highway Patrol helicopter. It was the second stop of the night for chopper pilot Jim Andrews, a Fairfield resident.
He’d already been asked numerous times for a cruise in the helicopter.
“If I start giving rides, I’ll be out here all night,” he said, politely turning down one request.
Earlier, he made a stop at Tolenas Park. After that, it was off to Napa “to make some noise” and then possibly on to Yountville.
Events such as National Night Out gives him a chance to explain his work while the public gets to see the helicopter up close.
Michael Brito, director of the Kroc Center, next to Hall Park, was impressed with the turnout.
“The whole community is embracing what we do,” Brito said.
The event shows that the city won’t tolerate crime, he said.
More than 40 neighborhood groups participated in National Night Out in Fairfield, while Suisun City holds the large community gathering.
This is the 31st anniversary of National Night Out. The first one drew about 2.5 million Americans in 400 communities in 23 states.
Last year, more than 37.8 million people in more than 16,000 communities participated. That included all 50 states, United States territories and military bases worldwide.
The event encourages people to get out of their homes, turn on their porch lights and meet with neighbors be it a cookout, party, parade or rally.
The concept stems from the idea that crime is reduced in neighborhoods where residents interact with each other.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.