It starts with bingo at the Golden Link, then heads to Central Park for a full evening

    Crookston’s 15th Annual Night to Unite will be held on Tuesday, August 7 in Central Park.

    The night starts with the 5th annual Walt Keller Memorial Bingo Party from 3 to 4 p.m., which will be held at the Golden Link Senior Center. There will be lots of prizes given away for this event. Transportation for the Bingo Party will be provided to seniors by Tri-Valley Bus. Tri-Valley will be picking up seniors at the Villa, Oak Court, and Nimens Espegard Building “C” starting at 2:30 p.m.

    Activities begin with the early bird sign up for prizes at 3:30, and then the regular activities and main event starts at 4:30 p.m. and continues until 8:30 p.m. in Central Park.

    Crookston Police Officer Don Rasicot says, “Due to the extreme generosity of our local businesses and citizens in Crookston, this will be a banner year for us to give away some very cool prizes. There will be lots of winners this year, both children and adults with our awesome array of prizes.” Prizes include 37 new bicycle, helmet, and lock packages, 3 Grand Prize giveaways worth over $500 each, and other prizes including electronic items, outdoor games, and pool parties.

    The theme of the year is “Night to Unite Champions.” A ceremony will crown the 2018 “Night to Unite Champions of our Community.” Rasicot says, “A Night to Unite Champion is a person or business that has shown through volunteerism and selfless contributions, (time, labor, services, or finances) a passion for the betterment of Crookston. Our goal is to continue to foster and promote a great working relationship between the community and its first responders/emergency services organization.” Crookston Police Chief Paul Biermaier will be announcing winners selected by a committee through public nominations. He will then present each recipient with a plaque of honor and distinction. This year’s recipients are: Hugo’s Grocery Store, Mercy Peterson, Chuck Larson, Tom and Dawn Skjei, and Nell DeBoer.

    After the Bingo Party, there will be a parade of hot rods, late models and other vehicles. The early bird sign up for kids will run from 3:30-4:30, and kids can sign up to win a bicycle package just for coming early. At 4:20, there will be a code three escort for the National Guard. At 4:30, Sgt. Kitty Barstad from the Northwest Regional Corrections Center will again be singing the National Anthem to open the festivities. Then there will be the 20 minute ceremony where Biermaier presents the “Night to Unite Champions’ with their plaque of honor in front of the Lion’s Stage. The watermelon eating contest will return in an expanded form, where major prizes will be given away. The “burglar” will appear at some point, and every child who points out the burglar to a police officer will be given a prize. “The Blues Brothers have warned us that they will be back for another exciting police chase this year,” Rasicot says.

    This year, there will be a new one-hour demonstration from the Kempler Zoo of unusual and exotic animals and reptiles. The Grand Forks Bomb Squad will be present and performing ongoing demonstrations with their robot. Three K-9 dogs, one from the UND Police Department and two from the Grand Forks Police Department will be available to mingle in the crowd. A joint law enforcement scenario will show off the K-9’s talent later in the evening. The Golf Ball Drop will also be returning, with many bicycle packages and prizes given away.

    The 1,000 Gallon Dunk Tank will be returning with new celebrity guests, put together by Patty Dillabough. Miss Crookston Aleece Durbin will start out in the tank, followed by the two Polk County sheriff candidates, Jim Tadman and Randy Sondrol. Each sheriff candidate will be giving away a bicycle package during their time in the tank. Finally, new Crookston School District Superintendent Jeremy Olson will be in the dunk tank. Prizes will be given away to those in the crowd who can consecutively dunk these celebrities.

    All food vendors will be returning this year, including a new food truck from Crookston, “Draft’s Sports Bar.” Other returning events include face painting and “Minute to Win It” games by committee members Mark Ecklund and Wendy Willits. The official 2018 Night to Unite videographer Bo Brorby will be capturing the event on video and in photos.

    Rasicot would like recognize and give a shout out to the hard working 2018 Night to Unite Committee members who have made this event possible: Linda Morgan, Connie Wilkens, Kari Brault, Marley Melbye, Mark Ecklund, Wendy Willits, Tara Miller, Scott Riopelle, Amanda Grove, Dana Johnson, Gina Roue, Patty Dillabough, Brenna Miller, and Cathy LaJesse. Rasicot says, “Every one of these individuals has volunteered hours and days of their time to make this happen. This is a time taken away fro their family so others can enjoy a successful event. Thank you all! I would also like to thank City Administrator Shannon Stassen and Chief Paul Biermaier, who have given me the full resources of the Crookston Police Department and the City of Crookston to make this year’s Night to Unite a very special and successful one.”