First published in the Aug. 6 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
It’s not every day that Burbank residents take the helm of a police chopper or the wheel of an armored SWAT van — but they weren’t in a high-speed chase. They were posing for photos at the annual National Night Out at Johnny Carson Park on Tuesday.
Several hundred attendees joined the festivities, making this year’s National Night Out the most successful in the event’s history.
“This year’s turnout was, by far, the largest we have seen, and we thank the community for helping make National Night Out a success,” Brent Fekety, Burbank Police Department’s public information officer, said.
Dubbed this year as “A Night Out Against Crime,” the goal of the community-building event is “to promote police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to help make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live,” Fekety said.
For the second year in a row, the event was held at Johnny Carson Park, which allowed organizers to provide a larger space for residents to gather, play games, enjoy food and refreshments from Burbank establishments and engage in conversation with city officials and police officers.
Burbank Police Chief Michael Albanese kicked off the night by thanking everyone for showing their support. He expressed how important police-community partnerships are to the safety of Burbank.
In the spirit of the event, officers and other police officials chatted with community members. Some facilitated games and others danced to “Cha-Cha slide.” The police department had an assortment of vehicles and specialty units on display, including a police helicopter, motorcycles and an armored vehicle. Residents posed for photos with officers and explored the vehicles.
Members of the Burbank Police Department, Burbank Fire Department, Burbank City Council, local advocacy groups and nonprofits were available in booths and throughout the event for activities and discussion.
“I loved National Night Out at Johnny Carson and the neighborhood gatherings I was able to visit. It’s a time to connect, stay engaged and build and maintain relationships. I look forward to it every year,” said Councilwoman Sharon Springer.
Springer and her fellow council members, including Mayor Jess Talamantes, Vice Mayor Konstantine Anthony, Councilman Bob Frutos and Councilman Nick Schultz, were stationed throughout the park to speak with community members. They posed for pictures, played games, visited booths and participated in the filming of drone footage of the park during the event for the city of Burbank.
Members of Burbank’s MHET, or mental health evaluation team, ran a booth and spread awareness of their services. The MHET’s goal is to address the growing needs of those suffering from mental illness and homelessness.
Community groups such as Together We Can, Zonta and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense had booths and engaged with attendees.
Together We Can, an organization that advocates for street safety, handed out hand-made cookies and spoke about Burbank’s illegal street racing and speeding problem.
“Our group needed to be at Burbank’s National Night Out as it was a gathering of local organizations. We feel strongly that many voices bring positive change, and we are trying to grow our group,” said Lisa Martinez, one of the organization’s three founders.
Members of Elevate Burbank, a new nonprofit dedicated to promoting cultural diversity through events, engagement and partnerships for the Burbank community, invited community members to their summer Multicultural Arts Festival on Aug. 20.
“It’s always good when the community has an opportunity to gather and celebrate especially after what we’ve been through the last two years. Hopefully, we’ll have more opportunities to gather, in a safe manner and celebrate,” Talamantes said. “I want to thank the community that joined us and look forward to more events as we move forward. Stay safe.”