By ROBIN SHANNON
Published/Last Modified on Saturday, October 15, 2011
LAPLACE – From smaller block parties on single streets, to large community gatherings at a nearby fire station, residents of St. John the Baptist Parish were out in full force Tuesday evening participating in the 28th annual Night Out Against Crime.
The national event, during which law enforcement officials and firefighters mingle with neighbors and residents, is usually held in August, but Louisiana opted to shift the outdoor party to October, when cooler temperatures are more prevalent. Residents in St. John took full advantage of the milder weather by scheduling more than 50 events between LaPlace and Garyville.
One of the small neighborhood events took place at 150 Cedar Drive, where Phillip and Kathleen Weber staged a neighborhood party at Phillip’s workshop.
Neighbors from up and down the block gathered at the shop for food and visiting.
“We have a good, strong neighborhood, and we all know each other,” said Kathleen Weber. “We were one of the first families to move into this area, and there are many old families living here.”
Meanwhile on Holly Drive residents of the Riverlands Estates area gathered under a large tent where a team of cooks were dishing out spaghetti and other meals.
The adults shared stories while the children were entertained by Sparky, the Dalmatian mascot of the LaPlace Fire Department, which was offering tours of a fire truck.
In the Woodland Quarters neighborhood, a large crowd gathered for a Night Out party and brief Bible study led by Rev. Donald August of Rising Star Baptist Church.
August said the tight-knit church community regularly sponsors a party as a way to strengthen bonds between neighbors. He also said the gathering serves as an ideal way to get children involved in community events in the neighborhood.
There was also a larger party in Belle Terre, where the Civic Association staged a Night Out event at LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department Station 53. The Belle Terre group was one of the first to decide to move its event to October to escape the sweltering summerheat.
“We likely would have gone rogue again if they hadn’t moved all the parties to this night,” said St. John Parish Judge Sterling Snowy. “It’s easier to attract more residents when it is easier to go outside.”
Children at the Belle Terre event were treated to tours of and rides in St. John Parish sheriff’s cruisers.