16th annual event is Tuesday, Aug. 6 in Central Park

    One of the biggest annual events on the community’s calendar, Crookston’s 16th Annual Night to Unite will be held on Tuesday, August 6 in Central Park.

    The festivities will begin with the sixth annual Walt Keller Memorial Bingo Party from 3 to 4 p.m. at the Golden Link Center. Tri-Valley’s T.H.E. Bus will provide transportation to any seniors that need it. Many prizes will be awarded at bingo.

    The main event will take place in Central Park, beginning with an early bird prize sign up for kids who arrive at the park between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. Kids can win a new bicycle package and other great prizes. The regular Night to Unite activities will begin at 4:30 p.m. and go until 8:30 p.m.

    “Due to the extreme generosity of our local businesses, service groups, and citizens in Crookston, this will be a banner year for us to give away some very cool prizes, including 40 brand new bicycle packages,” Crookston Police Officer Don Rasicot said. “There will be lots of winners this year, with both children and adult prizes due to our awesome array of prizes and electronics.”

    All prize winners must be present to win.

    This year will be the first year of the “Night to Unite Royalty Team of Junior Marshals.” The 2019 Teen Junior Grand Marshals are Caleb and Aspin Mendez, children of Shane and Carmen Mendez. The 2019 Adolescent Junior Grand Marshals are Addison and Ana Aune, children of Dallas and Rachel Aune. The Junior Grand Marshals will be driving around in a royalty vehicle handing out random prizes throughout the event.

     For the 2020 Night to Unite, the public will be asked to nominate the Junior Grand Marshals. At any time between now and early July of 2020, you can write the name, address, and phone number of a child between the ages of 4 and 16 years old and their parents. Write a paragraph explaining why you wish to nominate the child, place the information in an envelope and drop it off at the police station for Officer Rasicot. You can also nominate a child by submitting the information through the Crookston Night to Unite Facebook page. Selected nominees will be notified by the end of the second Night to Unite meeting in early July of 2020.

    “I don’t want to say too much,” Rasicot said about the events this year, “because it will ruin the surprises in store for our families who attend.

    To begin the evening, at around 4:25 p.m. there will be a parade of hot rods and a lights and siren escort for soldiers from around Minnesota. “We hope to have a variety of soldiers from at least three of the four branches of service,” Rasicot said.

    At approximately 4:30 p.m., Teen Junior Grand Marshal Caleb Mendez will play the national anthem on the piano as Sgt. Kitty Barstow from the Northwest Regional Corrections Center sings. Immediately after, there will be a ten minute opening ceremony hosted by Chief Biermaier introducing the Junior Grand Marshals and the start of the 2019 Night to Unite celebration.

     The Kempler Exotic Zoo main stage demonstration will begin at 5:10 p.m. Back by popular demand, the Kempler Exotic Zoo will present exotic, unusual, and interesting animals to educate the community. “This event comes with a significant cost,” Rasicot said, “but was totally funded and paid for in loving memory of Lynn Thoen, by her family members’ donation.”

    Popular returning events include the early bird prize sign up, the watermelon eating contest, and the golf ball drop.

    “The Blues Brothers have warned us that they will be back for another exciting police chase this year,” Rasicot said.

    The Grand Forks Bomb Squad and the University of North Dakota Police Department K-9 will be returning, and Sanford Life Flight’s Helicopter will be doing a fly by and landing in the park this year.

    Throughout the night, major prizes can be won by answering trivia questions.

    “Night to Unite Committee member Patty Dillabough is putting together a special dunk tank this year… she won’t tell anyone who is in it yet!” Rasicot said. “I heard a rumor that our Crookston Schools Superintendent Jeremy Olson and maybe some Crookston City Counsel Members may be taking the plunge, but Patty won’t confirm that.”

    Miss Crookston will be starting as the first dunkee. This year it will be Thea Oman, Miss Crookston 2018.

    All food vendors at last year’s Night to Unite will be returning, and the official 2019 Night to Unite videographer Bo Brorby will be capturing the event on video and in photos.