The Mesa del Mar neighborhood threw a party Tuesday and the cops showed up--not to write citations and issue warnings, but to hand out hot dogs and prizes.
The event in Costa Mesa was one of thousands held to observe National Night Out, a 17-year-old crime-fighting program. Anaheim and Newport Beach were among other cities that sponsored an estimated 9,700 gatherings this year.
At Mesa del Mar, a section of El Camino Street was closed to traffic and open for neighbors to enjoy music, food and soft drinks, and an inflatable "bounce house" for the children.
Matt Peskin, director of the National Assn. of Town Watch, which coordinates the event from its offices in Wynnewood, Pa., said the idea is "to put together a high-profile, high-impact crime prevention event that would involve entire communities. The concept was to put on your front light and sit on your porch for a couple of hours. If everybody in the country put on their light and sat on their porch, we felt there would be no crime."