The folks in Enumclaw’s Glacier Vista neighborhood, or at least around 60 of them, gathered for homemade desserts and lemonade in Cathy Matson’s driveway and the street. They checked in – noting which home was theirs on an enlarged plat map, updated their e-mail and phone information and then just chatted.
“Most of these people have lived here forever,” said Doug VanHulse, who has lived in the neighborhood south of Enumclaw for eight years.
“The young people haven’t been drawn into the system,” said Mary O’Connor, who moved into the neighborhood in 1980 and later sold her home to move into the one next door.
But that was changing on this Tuesday night.
Spurred by National Night Out, several new faces and a handful of recent thefts or attempted thefts, a few of the longtime neighbors decided to organize a get-together for those who live in the approximately 60 homes.
“We’ve never done this before,” O’Connor said. Or at least to this level.
“We get together every year because it’s nice to get together and meet your neighbors rather than just whiz by and wave,” Rayetta Montgomery said. She and husband Ken have lived in the neighborhood for 38 years. They, along with the Scotts, the Bassetts, Matson and maybe another or two are some of the earliest homeowners who built in the 1970s.
“Our kids played ball in your guys’ yard,” Rayetta told the group, referring to the end of the street before the remainder of the homes were built.
Mike and Florence Colby wore name tags with a photo of their home on it so everyone could make the connection.
National Night Out originated with a Block Watch theme but has expanded to address many issues that make for a happier, healthier community. It is designed to heighten crime prevention awareness, strengthen neighborhood spirit, help build police-community partnerships and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
The Glacier Vista neighborhood was one of about a dozen registered with Plateau Outreach Ministries for the event. Buckley, which is four years into the program, also participated.
It was Enumclaw’s first year.
“This was a wonderful event, and we were very pleased,” organizers Trip Hart and Kimberly Fish said.
“I had a call from a woman who said she’s lived in her neighborhood 40 years and didn’t know some of her neighbors and this was a wonderful opportunity to meet them,” said Hart, who hosted his own neighborhood event.
“It was a lot of fun,” Hart said. “Ours went late into the night.”
Hart also said there were a number of groups that have decided to meet at other times too.
“I think it went really well for its first year,” he said. “We hope to see more next year.”
The Simply Soup crew moved its regular monthly free soup dinner to NNO and took the event outside. The event featured Dennis DeAugustine and The Kettle Restaurant crew serving up their soup and Aaron Brenner’s Bakery bread. The Ladies of the Moose made cookies. Mayor Liz Reynolds made an appearance and served soup. The police and fire departments were also on hand.
Next door, the youth center welcomed folks with hot dogs and ice cream.
There were appetizers on McHugh Avenue, a barbecue on Wells Street, an ice cream social on Berilla Drive, a barbecue and potluck on 376th Street and root beer floats on Pioneer. There were also gatherings at the Golden Elm apartments and on Florence and Harding streets. And those were the ones that registered, Hart figures there were a number of neighborhoods that did their own thing.
“My NNO might not have been the largest, but our neighbors were so thankful for hosting this event,” said Victoria Throm, who hosted an event in her Lorraine Street neighborhood. “I met neighbors I would never have met before. We set up a phone tree and chose a block captain.”
She said it was a thrill when the fire truck stopped by the house and three firefighters came over and talked about safety tips. Throm said the conversation led to a plan to have their extinguishers tested. Later, she added, police officers came by and answered questions about crime statistics in the area.
“Overall, it was just fabulous!”
Back at Glacier Vista, teens were offering babysitting and dog-walking services and residence were matching up dogs with homeowners so strays could be returned home. There was talk of a new entrance sign and road improvements and one resident offered to run loads to the dump if anyone needed them to help with neighborhood cleanup.
Firefighters showed up and chatted with residents like Ken and DeEtta Noggle, who have lived there since 2006 and folks like Steve and Nancy Loy introduced their children.
“There are kids back in the neighborhood again, and we’re hearing them outside, and we’re just loving it,” said longtime resident Ann Bassett.
“Maybe next year will be a bigger bang,” said O’Connor, already making plans for 2012.