The 2020 Trunk or Treat Drive-Thru on Friday, Oct. 30, was certainly an extravaganza of sorts.
Hundreds of volunteers lined the maze-like drive-thru along High Street, just north of the Delano Police Department. And hundreds of cars not only lined that street to wait to get in to be entertained by musicians and folks in costumes, but to drive through a haunted house built from scratch. Vehicles, at times, were lined back up across Highway 99 on Girard Street at the Valero Gas Station.
And then there were the thousands of candy bags being handed out by those such as Delano City Council members Joe Alindajao and Grace Vallejo.
The Delano Police Department put on its annual event in partnership with city of Delano Recreation department and LifeHouse Church of Delano.
The looks of amazement by child passengers, and even the adult drivers, was priceless.
Police Chief Robert Nevarez was seen mingling in the crowd, clearly pleased with the large turnout.
Nevarez said that with COVID-19 restrictions it has been challenging to find venues to interact with the public in positive situations. He has very much been looking forward to events like “Trunk or Treat” where officers can interact with children and sow vital seeds of trust. ￼
"I want to make sure we give credit to everybody that was involved," Nevarez said. "It really took a lot to make this happen, and we are blessed to have so many willing participants in our community.
"Community Service Officer Rafa Silva collaborated with the parks and recreation department to coordinate this event," the chief said. "Also involved in the planning were agency Records Manager Veronica Maldonado and Records Personnel Jenny Recondo and Suzanne Mendoza. LifeHouse Church of Delano was also instrumental in the evening's success."
In past years, the department held the in-person event at Cesar Chavez Park. The usual three-hour event offered free candy, games and contests, and prizes.
The annual Trunk or Treat celebration is one of the many community service events the Delano Police Department conducts or partners with other agencies. Because of what happened with COVID-19, the agency’s crime prevention and community outreach events came to a screeching halt.
Officers returned to live crime prevention and community outreach events on June 4, starting with Cafe Con Campesinos. Officers also partnered with the Houchin Blood Bank to donate blood safely on June 11.
Silva and Cpl. Jose Madrigal have been at the forefront to make many of these and past events happen, with a goal to solidify trust between the community and the police department.
Last summer, officers came up with Bingo and Badges, which puts officers in touch with Delano senior citizens. Another idea was “junior” officers taking part in the department’s first ever Summer Camp this summer. Another youth-focused event was the agency’s Play in Peace event at the city’s new community center. About 50 children showed up.
Other Delano police-inspired community events have included:
• Three neighborhood block parties that selected areas plagued by violence and opened them up to fun for all, at least for a couple of hours.
• On Dec. 20, 2019, the agency had its first Hispanic Residents Academy Graduation, organized by Cpl. Madrigal.
• In November 2019, another officer started a program with the Delano Union School District to reach out to students who are at risk of falling behind in school or getting in trouble. Their method: using everyday table games, and most importantly, the time provided by officers. It started at Albany Park, but will likely be used in other district schools.
• On Oct. 26, 2019, Nevarez and his officers held Choppin’ It Up with Delano residents looking to get haircuts at Carlos Barber Shop or hair stylings at Alma's Beauty Salon next to each other on High Street. The agency had meet-the-community sessions and some tri-tip and light refreshments.
• On Oct. 22, 2019, officers were part of a successful Neighborhood Watch meeting at the Sunny View apartments, with more than 100 people attending, organized by Sgt. Richard Stites.