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National Night Out draws hundreds
Whitmore Park event proves to be a big venue for event
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At the Tuesday, Aug, 4 National Night Out event at Whitmore Park, Ceres Police Sgt. Joe Wren demonstrated how a police canine is trained to latch onto a limb to take down a suspect. - photo by BECKI BARTON-NICHOLES/Contributed to the Courier

A "community block party" was staged in Whitmore Park on Tuesday, Aug. 4 for a National Night Out celebration designed to bring the community together and reduce local crime.

Held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., the event featured information booths, food, displays of police vehicles, bike raffles and a canine attack demonstration.

National Night Out is held annually in most cities to focus on community crime prevention.

Police Chief Brent Smith said there was great attendance at the event.

The public could check out a myriad of police vehicles, including the Traffic Enforcement trailer used in DUI checkpoints, fire engines, the Ceres Police SWAT vehicle, nicknamed "the Bear," the code enforcement trailer, the Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Unit vehicle, the Police Mobile Command Post and a traffic motorcycle.

The donation of popcorn, frozen yogurt and hot dogs also helped draw the public - including all members of the City Council - to the event.

"I think we had a very successful National Night Out," said Councilmember Linda Ryno, who helped hand out hotdogs with husband Sam Ryno, a former Ceres Police sergeant. The hotdogs were supplied by La Cascada Mexican Restaurant owner Jose Saldivar. "We gave almost 100 hotdogs. That's a lot. Last year we came nowhere near that."

Ceres Mayor Chris Vierra donated shaved ice product from his new mobile booth.

"We set up for 200 and they did that it in less an hour," said Vierra. "I've never done that much in two hours."

"It was definitely a fantastic evening," noted City Manager Toby Wells.

One of the flyers 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

The presence of police canines drew a lot of interest. The night included a demonstration of the dogs who bit at the protective suit wore by Sgt. Joe Wren, supervisor of the canine unit.