Allen Lizza said he arrived home at 7 a.m. Tuesday in his North Longview neighborhood to find his neighbor upset because her sprinkler system had broken.
“She was all frustrated,” Lizza recalled.
Undaunted, Lizza said he and the neighbor “got muddy” in the water trying to shut off the valve for the sprinkler.
Lizza, a certified public accountant who has lived on Eric Lane off Spring Hill Road since 2013, cited his encounter as the spirit of neighborliness that exists on his street that has only eight or nine homes.
Lizza invited his neighbors and others Tuesday evening to his carport for the third National Night Out party that he has hosted in a row, often with Ingrid Self next door.
Self and others wore gray T-shirts with the message “LOVE Your Neighborhood” printed on the front and with the intersection of Eric Lane and Spring Hill Road printed on the back.
“I think we have the best neighborhood (in Longview),” said Self, who has lived on the street since December 2014 and works for the city’s Development Services Department as assistant director.
More than 20 people arrived within two hours after the party started, including Longview police officers and paramedics.
They ate hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, cupcakes and other foods, sipped drinks and sat in a big circle. They also gave Finn Miller a surprise party for his sixth birthday.
The Longview Police Department, Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement agencies encouraged neighborhoods to conduct the parties with the goal of getting to know each other better — and reducing crime.
Longview observed its 29th year of National Night Out and in conjunction with the sheriff’s office registered about 113 parties.
The Longview Police Department also named its best neighborhood group — on Celebration Way between Fourth Street and Eastman Road — while the sheriff’s office honored the top parties on Inez Street in Liberty City in the southern portion of the county and Forest Lake and Judson Roads in the northern area of the county.
The small gathering and low-key atmosphere at the National Night Out party on Eric Lane contrasted with the boisterousness of hundreds of young families gathered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Big Pines on Garfield Street, across the street from Ware East Texas Montessori Prep Academy. The Boys & Girls Clubs, the school, the Thrive360 after-school program, Buckner Children and Family Services and other agencies and groups helped to conduct the event.
Children hopped around in a bounce house, had their faces painted, ate popcorn and enjoyed games.
Drake St. Clair, 17, of Kilgore painted the cheeks of his girlfriend, Emily Janner, also 17 and a senior at Longview High School.
“He is going to put a star on her,” said Emily’s mother, Nichole Janner.
Decorated with a white cross on her left cheek and a peace sign on the other cheek, Kameron Holmes, 9, of Longview posed for pictures in an unenclosed photo booth that produced a strip of small photos. She said she likes to get her photo taken.
The event featured an educational component in addition to fun and games. Forty-one Level 3 nursing students from the University of Texas at Tyler Longview University Center attended to educate attendees about nutrition, hygiene, breastfeeding awareness and other health issues.
Nursing student Dorothy Gardner used a duster with shaving cream on balloons to simulate brushing teeth.
The students ran out of their supply of 100 packages of toothbrushes and toothpaste, nursing instructor Janelle Martinez said.