National Night Out 2023 in Albany

Officer Jose Lara & Sabrina Zou

Officer Jose Lara and Sabrina Zou

The nation came together on August 2, 2023 to celebrate National Night Out (NNO), a night for communities to build healthy relationships with law enforcement and focus on neighborhood safety. I visited several block parties scattered throughout Albany, where I asked members of the community why they thought NNO was important.

The first block party I visited was on Kains Avenue, between Solano and Marin, where I met Aaron Tiedemann, the Mayor of Albany. He said that throughout the years he has worked with the Albany City Council, more city officials come together on National Night Out than on any other occasion. I also met Chief John Geissberger, of the Albany Police Department, who thinks it’s important for the police and community members to get to know each other, and that community members have the opportunity to interact with the police outside of emergency situations. Margo, one of the neighbors that organized the block party, spoke to me about the unity of her block. She said that during lock down, members of her block would come together and sing political and religious songs together.

Block party on Stannage Ave

Block party on Stannage Ave.

The second block party I visited was on Stannage Avenue, also between Solano and Marin. There, I talked to Jack, who is 74. He said that he’d lived in Albany for 40 years, but rarely had a chance to talk to his neighbors, except for at NNOs. I also interviewed father and son, Adrian, who is 63, and Jack, 18, a recent Albany High School graduate. They expressed that it is “good to meet your neighbors” and that it makes the community feel “safer and more comfortable.”

At the next party, which was on Talbot Avenue, between Marin and Dartmouth street, I interviewed Officer Jose Lara of the Albany Police. He brought up that, “without NNO, community members would not have the chance to meet and greet their neighbors–and the same goes for the police.”

Jake, Liam, Felix, and Diego

Jake, Liam, Felix, and Diego, Albany High School Jazz Band.

I finished my night off at the Albany Community Center, where there was free buttery popcorn, games, and live music from the Albany High School Jazz Band. Zora, who is entering senior year at the high school this fall, told me that NNO is a good reason for people to celebrate–and laughingly added that people are always looking for a reason to celebrate. I also had the chance to talk to the jazz band. Liam, who is 15, explained that he didn’t know much about NNO before getting invited to play at the Community Center for the occasion, but he was excited about the free popcorn and was glad that the small children were hanging out and having fun. Another member of the band, Felix, who is turning 17 in a month, told me that he thinks NNO is about community. He thinks it’s important because people can get to know their neighbors and therefore feel safer about their home.

Overall, National Night Out was a fantastic time and a great way for me to learn about my neighborhood!

–Sabrina Zou


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