There was food, drink, and entertainment aplenty for children and families during Junction City Police Department’s annual summer block party.
Starting Friday afternoon, people gathered in the park for the yearly event. There was free food, a magic show, entertainment provided by 12th Street Community Center’s zumba team, and finally a movie. Vendor booths provided information about area agencies to help familiarize people new to the area with what the community has to offer.
Candice Howard and her children were first-timers at the block party, having moved here last August.
“I think it’s a great event, lots of vendors, family-oriented,” she said. “It’s a nice day to come together.”
Howard was glad to see the local police department out and about in the community in a non-policing capacity.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for them to give back and show that they support the community and it’s really good to just see them out and just showing support,” Howard said.
Officer Eddie Torres agreed that it was good for the community to see them in a different light than most people see the police.
“I think it’s very important,” he said. “I think we have a really good community. We have a good relationship with the community and I think this kind of stuff — this type of activity — i think just strengthens that bond that we have.”
Torres said he hoped participants in the block party felt the same way.
“It’s just an opportunity to have fun with the community, basically, and for them to have fun with us,” he said. “We try to have activities for the kids and the families and food — and everything, of course, is free. So it’s just a party.”
The block party is the JCPD’s take on National Night Out Against Crime, he said.
“It’s an opportunity to get the police department and the community together,” Torres said.
Capt. Keith Fitzgerald was in charge the night of the event.
“I think it’s good for the community,” he said. “It’s a cooperative effort with law enforcement, local businesses and the citizens of Junction City.”
Sgt. Eliel Borges, who is a member of the JCPD’s community involvement unit, helped put the block party together. He said the community really came through for the police department this year in terms of donations to the event.
It took months of planning and many donations from local businesses to make it happen.
The summer block party received a large number of food donations from local businesses — the most the event had ever received, Borges said.
“The food’s great, the music’s great,” he said. “We were expecting a little bit more of a crowd, but we know this is the last weekend before school starts, so it might be keeping some people away.”