As night fell on the mass of people in the Villa Maria Road neighborhood, resident Betty Crocker and members of Claremont’s Keeping the Good in Our Neighborhood looked on with pride at the more than 300 people who packed the area.
The crowd had gathered for the fifth annual Keeping the Good in Our Neighborhood Block Party that featured a classic car show, food trucks, booths by local businesses and organizations, a raffle, and a disc jockey.
“Betty is giving the LA County Fair a run for their money tonight,” Councilman Sam Pedroza told the crowd. He was only half kidding. At one point, Villa Maria was so packed, walking space was at a premium, especially around the food trucks.
Crocker spearheaded to effort to host the event, which was sponsored by the neighborhood group commonly known as KGNH.
She introduced the community to law-enforcement and public safety officials who serve their community. She introduced them to Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali and Councilman Pedroza.
And the money raised from the event benefitted the Be Perfect Foundation, started by Hal Hargrave, of Claremont, who suffered a spinal cord injury four years ago that left him unable to walk.
Hargrave’s Be Perfect Foundation helps those recovering from spinal cord injuries with the enormous cost of rehabilitation, he said.
It was inspired by an acquaintance who came into rehab a few months after Hargrave started his. At the time, the man faced losing his vehicles, his home and even struggled to feed his family, Hargrave said.
“I went to my parents and I said this is my calling, I finally understand this is what I need to do,” Hargrave said.
“I wanted to give back to the people who had helped me and had been there for me,” Hargrave said.
KGNH is made up of neighbors that come together to keep their community crime free. But they also gather to celebrate their neighborhood, according to their website.
“We are a group of folks that believe we are the first line of defense to combating crime by reporting all suspicious activity to our police and within our private neighbor email broadcasts,” according to the KGNH site.