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City hosts community block party in the park
National Night Out event draws crowd to Whitmore Park
Officer Jesus Salinas
Officer Jesus Salinas talks to Jennifer Hidalgo, a representative of state Senator Anna Caballero, about his police canine partner. - photo by Jeff Benziger

A “community block party” was staged in Whitmore Park on Tuesday, Aug. 3 for a National Night Out celebration designed to bring the community together and reduce local crime.

National Night Out (NNO) is held annually in most cities to focus on community crime prevention. Held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the Ceres event featured information booths, free food, displays of fire and police vehicles, and to see a police canine. Hughson held a similar event at the baseball fields.

This year marked the first time since 2019 that the event was held. Last year’s event did not take place because of the coronavirus pandemic and outdoor restrictions imposed by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Police Chief Rick Collins said there was a nice turnout of families and young people at the event.

“It was just nice to have the camaraderie between the police department and the citizens,” observed Ceres resident Lee Brandt. “I would have liked to see more people there.”

The public was able to check out some emergency vehicles, including a fire engine, the Ceres Police SWAT vehicle nicknamed “the Bear,” and two traffic motorcycles. The presence of a police canine drew a lot of interest.

Pepsi was on hand to give away drinks and other products and Cost Less Foods donated the buns for hot dogs that were barbecued by Sam Ryno.

“I think we had a very successful National Night Out,” said Councilwoman Linda Ryno, who helped hand out hotdogs with husband Sam Ryno, a former Ceres Police sergeant.

Among those who attended were all three candidates for the District 1 Ceres City Council seat – Jim Casey, Laurie Smith and Connie Vasquez. Also setting up a table was District 5 county Supervisor Channce Condit.

Reserve Traffic Officer John Lee stood by his motorcycle and talked about how traffic crashes in Ceres are decreasing despite an increase in complaints about speeding in neighborhoods. Often citizen complaints will result in the department setting up its speed radar trailers for a time in an effort to warn lead-footed motorists. 

One of the flyers offered at the event contained a number of good tips to help prevent residential burglaries, including:

• Make your home look occupied and make it difficult to break into;

• Leave lights on when you go out or set automatic timers during extended absences;

• Always lock doors and windows and the garage;

• Report all suspicious people to police;

• Install an alarm system or security cameras that can be viewed from smart phone apps.

Residents who would like to get a Neighborhood Watch set up in their area should contact David McCann at 538-5624 or by email at

Officer John Lee
Natalia Carrasco of Ceres posed with motorcycle Officer John Lee during the Aug. 3 National Night Out event at Whitmore Park. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Sam Ryno at BBQ
Retired Ceres Police Sgt. Sam Ryno barbecues hot dogs on the grill at Whitmore Park during last week's National Night Out event for the community. - photo by Jeff Benziger
Crowd at NNO
Those who turned out for the Aug. 2 National Night Out event enjoyed free food and snacks courtesy of a number of local businesses including Cost Less Foods and Pepsi. - photo by Jeff Benziger