By outward appearances, the new order for Tracy's National Night Out was a success.
People were playing, strolling and laughing on the greensward by City Hall earlier this evening, and the event's organizers said so many people showed up that they ran out of hot dogs and hamburgers (though some reports indicate a few folks went back for more than their fair share of the freebies).
However, it strikes Second Thoughts as something of a letdown to have NNO in one centralized location, instead of spread throughout the city, as in previous years.
Sure, it might save money. And it might make for a better party. (Getting the city manager in a dunk tank has gotta count for something.)
But the idea behind NNO is to take back city streets. It's not just to get information from public safety officials — it's designed to get neighbors talking to one another in their own front yards.
That's why the neighborhood-by-neighborhood block party idea was such a success. It got people unafraid to use their public spaces, which is one of the best ways everyday citizens can fight back against crime. It's something that goes missing when the event is concentrated in one space.
I'm glad tonight appeared to be a hit. But I'd rather see National Night Out spread throughout the city.