La Crescent neighbors were easy to spot during the community’s National Neighbors Night Out at Frank J. Kistler Memorial Park.
“We came last year on accident. We were attending swim lessons but this year we knew about it,” said Nikki Gjere, National Neighbors Night Out attendee. “It’s nice to see people you recognize in the community. We like to get involved with the community.”
Gjere’s husband, Chad, and their son spent a portion of the night waiting in line for one of the event’s many children-oriented festivities: the bouncy house.
Along with the opportunity to fly through the air, the event had a brat supper, first responders’ vehicle tours, a raffle, a chance to play with the fire truck’s water hose and open swim at the La Crescent Aquatic Center.
“I’m excited to go swimming,” said 11-year-old Samantha Fabian.
The Sir Lancer Bots—La Crescent-Hokah High School’s robotics team—topped off the night with prizes shot into the air from a robot.
This was La Crescent’s 11th year of neighborly celebrations.
“I’m excited,” said 8-year-old Girl Scout Erin Ready. “We might go swimming, but we are going to play in the sprinklers.”
The Girl Scouts was one of many other local nonprofits and businesses that not only attended the event but also had an information booth.
“This is the first year we’ve had the booth,” said troop leader Sarah Gile. “Mostly people have been grabbing stuff and going. We are trying to recruit more girls.”
A chance to reconnect with neighbors is only one of the reasons National Neighbors Night Out attracts crowds up to 900 people.
“I think it’s great to bring the community together,” said police car tour operator and La Crescent Police Officer Roth Clark. “The event brings us together as a community and shows that there is a human side to cops and first responders. It helps build bridges within the community.”
La Crescent Police Chief Doug Stavenau was also impressed with the event’s turn out.
“It’s a good crowd. It’s nice to see a lot of different people in the community come out,” he said.
La Crescent Police Officer Mike Ernster’s wife, Amy, attended the event with a crowd.
“I brought my kids and their friends for the open swim. That’s probably what they are most excited about,” she said. “It’s nice to see all the people that you may not talk to every day.”
The event coincided with similar events across the country as part of program began by the National Association of Town Watch. According to NATW, National Night Out is a community-building campaign to promote partnerships between the law enforcement and emergency responders and the communities they serve to make neighborhoods safer.