A barricaded East Palo Alto street was not the scene of a police action Tuesday night, Aug. 7, but a celebration to increase neighborhood unity and cooperation with police.
City officials met with residents in seven neighborhoods for National Night Out, the annual nationwide community-safety event.
Residents grilled hot dogs and mingled with police, and East Palo Alto officials paid for bounce houses where children played. A grinning City Councilman Ruben Abrica took photos.
Newell Road resident Peter Hernandez said he moved to the Woodland Apartments complex in 1994 from San Jose.
He thought the sound wall on the west side of U.S. Highway 101 was a barrier of safety from East Palo Alto's crime.
"I looked at that wall and I told the property manager, 'Thank God I don't live in East Palo Alto.' And she said, 'I have bad news for you. You do,'" Hernandez, an Army veteran and retired VA Palo Alto Healthcare System employee, said.
Now he said security at the apartments and neighborhood cooperation with police makes residents feel comfortable.
Sebastian Gutierrez, 8, helped turn the cooking hot dogs.
"I just met Sebastian today," Hernandez said, noting that one benefit of National Night Out is strengthening neighborhood ties.
He gazed around the street full of gathering residents and laughing children.
"I think of it as family," he said.