For some time, the only conversation Terri Ruff had with some of her neighbors in east Elk Grove was when she asked them to turn their loud music down. Then, thanks to a neighborhood watch program, she actually talked to them.
"We realized we had more in common than we thought and are good friends now," Ruff said.
Her cul-de-sac held one of the more than two dozen gatherings around Elk Grove Tuesday night. The nationwide events are designed to strengthen communities and encourage residents to work closely with authorities, and the and made stops at many parties around the city.
"What it's all about is for people to meet their neighbors so they know, 'Does that car belong here?' " Elk Grove City Council Member Sophia Scherman said while at a party in Laguna West.
That neighborhood, Laguna Greens, was holding its 17th National Night Out party at .
Michael Jones said he founded that area's neighborhood watch program after a burglar stole a gun collection from a neighbor. Now, nearly two decades later, he and other volunteers pass out about 300 fliers for events like Tuesday's gathering.
"It really puts the emphasis on getting out in the neighborhood and meeting neighbors," Council Member Steve Detrick said at the Laguna Greens party. "What Elk Grove is really about is getting out in the parks, and being able to do this citywide is unbelievable."
At that party, residents barbecued, police officers handed out stickers, firefighters showed off a truck, a clown twisted balloon animals, and Target employees passed out snow cones.