BUCYRUS — The laughter of kids playing, the aroma of barbecues and the chatter of neighbors visiting with each other filled the streets of Bucyrus on Tuesday evening as block parties kicked off across town as part of National Night Out.
Valerie Malone and her husband Jeff planned their party after starting a neighborhood watch group.
“Our house was broken into around Memorial Day while we were home in bed. The guy already had our computer stacked up outside and was coming back in for more. Our neighbor’s house was hit, too,” said Malone.
One of Malone’s neighbors, Juanita Gatchell, said she has lived in her Rensselaer Street home for 45 years.
“This is the first time it has become necessary for us to start a neighborhood watch group. Things are happening that you just did not have to deal with years ago,” she said.
Mayor Jeff Reser was visiting all 20 parties along with city service safety director Jeff Wagner.
“Everyone is in a great mood and we are having great weather. The block parties on National Night Out are one of the many things that make Bucyrus a great place,” Reser said.
He said it is important for neighbors to get to know each other.
Pastor Mike Corwin agrees. “As the former police chief and now as a minister, neighbors who know each other tend to look out for each other more. If you know who lives around you, it is easier to notice when something is not right.”
Corwin’s church, Bucyrus United Methodist is one of nine that band together each year to offer an amazing block party to residents. It includes games for kids, food and even skits put on by the kids participating in vacation Bible school.
“We have so much fun working together to do the block party,” said Karolyn Rebon of Father’s Healing Heart Church.
Rebon said other churches participating include St. Paul’s Lutheran, Salvation Army, Good Hope, First Presbyterian, St. John’s Church of Christ, New Day Ministries and First Baptist.
Daniel Prine is one of the volunteers that helps out at the block party each year.
“It’s a way to give back to the community. I help at the soup kitchen also. I honestly believe that if we are not here to help others, then what are we here for,” Prine said.
Adam Stanley and his family came out for the block parties.
“It’s something fun to do for the family and gets us out of the house,” Stanley said.
Stanley’s son, Steven, said he has a lot of fun at the block parties.
Three-year-old Dariana Perry said she loved several things about the block parties.
“I got to play with kids, jump in the bouncy house and eat suckers,” said Perry with a serious look on her face.
Sharon Ten Eyck was in charge of the bouncy house on the lawn of the Bucyrus United Methodist Church.
“We have had about 150 to 200 children come through. It’s been a lot of fun,” said Ten Eyck.
Former Bucyrus Mayor and fire chief Dan Ross said the block parties are a great way for people to meet their neighbors.
“It gets people outside, talking with one another, which just doesn’t happen enough these days. People who care about their neighbors look out for each other and that is what we need,” Ross said.
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras