Crookston's extremely popular "Night to Unite" takes place Tuesday, Aug. 6 at Central Park from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Polk County Justice Center, the event's planning committee met to go over logistics and address any concerns relating to this year's event. Led by Crookston Police Officer Don Rasicot, the committee went through a structured agenda and voiced confirmations, concerns and questions regarding Night to Unite.
Using the agenda and list of sponsors for the event, along with a map of the park layout, the group went through each individual sponsor and marked if they were confirmed on a master list before discussing if their location in the park was safe for them as well as the community. "[We've] gotta make it as safe as possible." Rasicot said. During this time the group focused on parking accommodations and verified the things that sponsors and booths, which will be set up around the park, will need.
With many local businesses sponsoring this year's event, Night to Unite is able to host an array of events, such as "a scavenger hunt, prizes, watermelon eating, face painting, family photos and food vendors with activities for all ages," said Crookston City Council member and Night to Unite committee member Dana Johnson.
Rasicot, chairperson and leader for the Night to Unite committee, was extremely pleased with the progress the group has made and the new and exciting additions and plans for this years event. "This is really coming together great," He remarked towards the end of the meeting. "I'm really proud of all of us who [have been] working on this."
Night to Unite's roots go back years, to a nationwide event held in communities across the country to show those who might commit crimes or otherwise do harm to others that individuals, families, neighborhoods and law enforcement were united against such negative behaviors. When people attended National Night Out, they were instructed to leave their outside porch lights on at their homes as a symbol of their unified force.
In Crookston, the event, now Night to Unite, has become, simply put, huge.
"It's grown tremendously, and it's a really big night for the kids," Mayor Dave Genereux said. "There was maybe a couple hundred people at the start, but last year they figured maybe a couple thousand came down to the park."
This year's lineup includes a veterans' ceremony, the return of the helicopter, and a record number of bicycles to be won and/or given away.
"The planning committee has really done a bang-up job," Police Chief Tim Motherway said. "It's become the premier family event in the community. Kids aren't running around all over the place, they're moving around the park with their families."
Page 2 of 2 - "One of the main purposes is to get kids to feel comfortable around police, firefighters and public officials so they know they can approach them whenever they need or want to," Genereux said. "It's really become quite the event for us."