Celebrating its 33rd annual year, organizations across San Antonio are hosting National Night Out events tonight. Most of the neighborhood events start around 6 p.m. and end around 8 p.m.
In recent years, more than 700 groups in San Antonio registered for the National Association of Town Watch event. The evening is commemorated every first Tuesday of October in Texas. San Antonio law enforcement and Mayor Ivy Taylor are expected to attend gatherings in the area.
San Antonio Chief of Police William McManus will be visiting events hosted by the West End Hope in Action, the Maverick Neighborhood Association, San Antonio Parks and Recreation department and the Monte Vista Neighborhood Association.
According to the organization, National Night Out is about strengthening the relationship between community members and law enforcement, a cause that could be considered especially important in a year of several high-profile incidents of police brutality, including the deaths of Philando Castile of Minnesota and Alton Sterling of Louisiana.
The evening of comradery is expected to bring out thousands of San Antonio residents to play games, eat food and participate in a raffle or two.
Downtown senior center
Toni Botello, 91, and her daughter Mary Valdez, 72, were two of more than 50 people just getting started with a game of Bingo during a National Night Out 2016 gathering Tuesday at the Commander's House.
It was their first time attending the nationally celebrated event at the senior center, which many seniors there called a “second home,” when they were greeted by McManus, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Bexar County Tax Assessor-Collector Albert Uresti.
“This is the one night of the year that we have the chance to formally get together with members of the community ... to send a message that we're not going to tolerate crime,” McManus said.
The San Antonio Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team, which responds to incidents such as high water rescues and others requiring further expertise, were on scene displaying their equipment and trucks as classical tunes blanketed conversations.
“I think there are more people celebrating tonight that any other night ... the community seems to be more engaged,” Sculley said, having stopped at several gatherings. She noted there were 140 citizens at the bond committee meeting last night.
“There’s events all over the city, east, south, west and north,” McManus said smiling. “I wish I could get to every single one of them but I can't.”