One location served some of the best carne asada tacos this side of Main Street. At another, there were pies, popcorn and plenty of pasta. And that's just for starters. Last Tuesday's National Night Out certainly featured a seemingly endless amount of goodies, but it was about much more than that. Held on the first Tuesday in August, the event brings together involved residents, law enforcement agencies and others. Nationally, the event, which started in Pennsylvania 25 years ago, has spread to all 50 states and beyond. An estimated 35 million people participated last year. The event's main purpose is to stop crime by bringing neighbors together.


In Hesperia, this year's event helped bring together neighbors in five different neighborhoods. Visiting each of the events were city council members Mike Leonard, Ed Park, Smitty Smith and Rita Vogler and City Manager Mike Podegracz. Each dignitary was assigned to a team that also included local firefighter, police units and Citizens On Patrol members. Representatives from the Hesperia Police Station were Lt. Gwaltney, Deputy Clough, Deputy Marszalek, Deputy Bader and Deputy Smith.


Following a well-choreographed schedule, they visited block parties on the east end of town on June Street and on the west side of town on Altadena Street. For the final three visits, they went to apartment festivities at Sunset View Apartment on Topaz, Sunrise Terrace Apartments on Muscatel and Santa Fe Apartments on Sultana.


"It's great!" said Mayor Mike Leonard as he visited with Altadena Street residents.


While all visits were congenial, some participants took the unique opportunity to share their concerns with council members. Frankie and Harold Meeks, who own a home near the Altadena Street party, asked the mayor if he could help solve problems regarding their Chaparral neighborhood. When the builder, Prestige Homes, went bankrupt they and their neighbors felt abandoned. The construction of several homes was abruptly ended, and tall weeds in common areas have sprouted up.


The National Night Out event was a step in the right direction, they said.


"It's a community coming together," Frankie Meeks said.


Her husband was impressed with the mayor's interest.


"That's pretty cool," he said about the opportunity to meet Leonard. "He seems pretty concerned about what's going on."


City Councilwoman Rita Vogler echoed the Meeks' sentiment.


"It's important to note that we went out into the neighborhoods, and they're very, very grateful."


Like all of the Hesperia events, it took a considerable amount of planning and volunteer time to make the June Street event a reality.


"We have awesome neighbors," said Adrianna Hagan, who helped co-organize the block party.


"We had a good turnout," added co-organizer Tony Mendez. "Everybody volunteered."


The June Street event featured Sparky the Fire Dog, McGruff the Crime Fighting Dog, hot barbecue, the local rock band Burning Babylon, games and more.


But they, too, have experienced difficult times. According to co-organizer Mugsy, a retired Marine and the neighborhood's Neighborhood Watch Captain, foreclosed homes have been broken into and their copper pipes stolen. And that makes the event even more special.


"I think it's a great thing," he said. "Look at all these people. None of these people knew each other, but now they do."