There were early concerns that the 3rd annual National Night Out in the City of San Fernando might be cut short — very short.
A rare summer shower with brief moments of intensity came down at the start of the gathering to promote community partner-ships with the city’s police force on Tuesday, Aug. 1.
But the unexpected rain — replaced by warm breezes after approximately 25 minutes — did nothing to dampen the turnout at the city parking lot on the corner of First Street and Maclay Avenue. Everyone there had a good time.
Three long rows of information booths and tables representing everything from the Special Olympics to Neighborhood Watch, area businesses, and representatives for local, state and national politicians were on hand to pile on the flyers and literature.
Kids bounced around large jumper houses. They could also have their faces painted, play with the giveaway yo-yos, or make new friends with the hundreds of other children swarming the event site.
For the hungry there were free hot dogs, chips, popcorn, sodas and water.
Jovie Gomez of San Fernando had come to the event last year, and said she was happy to see the intermittent shower.
“At first I wasn’t going to come back because it was too hot,” said Gomez, as she watched her daughters frolicking in one of the jumper houses. “So I was happy to see the rain. I was hoping to see some more local San Fernando vendors. I didn’t see as many this time But it’s okay, I’m still enjoying it.”
Thalia Brown of San Fernando has been a volunteer all three years. This time she enlisted the aid of her daughter Darreishia Verner, who lives in LA, to help out.
“My daughter and I always go to the Neighborhood Watch meetings,” Brown said. “So when they told us three years ago they were going to start doing it again, since we volunteer at Children’s Hunger Fund in Sylmar, so why not.
“She didn’t have to drag me out. I’m always out here,” Verner said.
Film actor Danny Trejo (“Machete”) happily posed for plenty of selfies and freely handed out hugs. Trejo is very loved in the Northeast San Fernando Valley; after all, he is a self-described “homeboy” from Pacoima.
He entered the event with the San Fernando police giving him “celebrity” security, escorting him onto the stage. This is a far cry from his past, as Trejo has said on many occasions how fortunate he is after being in and out of jail himself and serving time in San Quentin.
Tuesday was not a night about criminals, the actor said. “It’s all about the community,” Trejo told the crowd.
City council members and SFPD officials were all called on stage as Trejo was given a plaque of appreciation. “I have much respect for Danny Trejo,” said San Fernando Police Chief Tony Vairo.
Trejo, given the task of being the Master of Ceremonies for the evening, was handed a large 10-page script, and as he struggled with the long introductions and list of names, he joked, “what do you expect, I went to Pacoima Junior High,” as the crowd laughed.
“When are we going to get a [Trejo] restaurant here in San Fernando?,” Mayor Sylvia Ballin teased.
Trejo began to ad lib when it came time to introduce Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra. “This guy shows up everywhere, He’s even at spay and neuter events.”
Bocanegra told the crowd that he was also home grown. “My first job was right up the street at the Levi’s store selling 365 jeans, the assemblyman said. “Thank you for voting for me last year. I won’t let you down,” clearly in reference to recapturing the seat after an unexpected loss.
Trejo was right. Tuesday was all about “community.” Parents snapped photos of their kids dancing on stage. Los Tesoros de San Fernando, trained through the city’s famous Mariachi Master Apprentice Program, put on an impressive performance as did the youngsters from Ballet Folklorico Ollin Juvenil who train at Las Palmas park.
The three-plus hour Night Out attracted an estimated 1,500 people, San Fernando police said.
“Tonight was a great, huge success,” noted SFPD Sgt. Irwin Rosenberg.
“People had fun, they got free good, they got a lot of good stuff to take away. And the most important thing they got to takeaway was a great feeling of community spirit.
“This is San Fernando, and we stand all together in making a difference.”