As Melisa Szmurlo surveyed the activities taking place in her cul-de-sac during the third annual National Night Out event, held in Arbuckle’s Honey Grove subdivision, she couldn’t help but smile.
“I’m praising God,” said Szmurlo, who has been the lead organizer for the event since it began. “I really think that He put it all together for us.”
This year’s event in Arbuckle was the largest yet, with more than 100 residents stopping by for some food and fun last Tuesday. The event’s growth was made even more apparent by the number of exhibitors who attended: for the first time, the entire street was closed off to accommodate the numerous booths, public safety vehicles, and children’s activities.
The National Night Out campaign is geared toward community building and promoting public safety, and increased participation from various agencies across the county this year made for a successful event in Arbuckle.
This year, the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office sent multiple units and deputies to mingle with the community. Among them were Deputy Leanne Knutson, the Sheriff’s Office’s DARE Coordinator, and Kane Lausten, the agency’s boating deputy.
Also on hand were volunteers and an engine from the Arbuckle Fire Department and representatives from the Colusa County District Attorney’s Office’s Victim Witness Services.
“I think this is awesome,” said Amy Joel, an Arbuckle resident who was attending the event for the second year in a row. “I’m all for making kids comfortable with public safety personnel before they have to interact in a real situation.”
In addition to the county agencies that participated, there was one exhibitor there who was concerned with helping those first responders. Jim Wilson had a booth set up for the 10-33 Foundation, a non-profit that aims to help first responders and military personnel through the struggles of living in their career fields and to lead healthy and balanced professional and private lives.
On the community building side of the equation, Szmurlo said that Arbuckle really came together to make this year’s national night out the biggest and best one yet. She pointed to the inflatable water slide as an example of the community’s willingness to get involved.
“It was so weird – somebody posted on Facebook that they were looking for a water slide, and I went through the comments and Fabian Rolon’s name kept coming up. I went to (his page) and we had two friends in common, who actually live on this street,” Szmurlo said. “So he blessed us with the water slide. Isn’t that amazing?”■