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Night to Unite, National Night Out celebrated in south Washington County

Enid Meyer talks with Cottage Grove police reserve officers during a Night to Unite picnic on Pine Arbor Boulevard. The neighbors have been gathering for the annual event since 2007. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)1 / 3
Neighbors on and near Pine Arbor Lane have gathered for Cottage Grove's Night to Unite since 2007. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)2 / 3
Kids take a shot at a dunk tank at Wildflower Drive and Indigo Court during Cottage Grove's Night to Unite. (Bulletin photo by Scott Wente)3 / 3

South Washington County residents Tuesday night gathered over picnics, kids’ games and silly contests in parks, driveways and cul-de-sacs for Night to Unite and National Night Out.

Newport and Cottage Grove celebrated Night to Unite while St. Paul Park marked National Night Out. The names are different but they share similar goals: giving neighbors an opportunity on a summer evening to meet and greet one another and to interact with law enforcement and first responders. The ultimate goal is stronger communities with less crime.

There were 35 registered neighborhood parties in Cottage Grove, up several from last year’s Night to Unite. The event grows each year, Cottage Grove Public Safety Director Craig Woolery said.

The city used to have one large party at Woodridge Park, but the local gatherings are more beneficial because neighbors can visit and get to know one another, Woolery said.

“There are a lot more stronger ties” as a result of the neighborhood parties, he said.

Police, firefighters and city leaders buzzed around town, stopping at more than a dozen parties. Some neighborhoods grilled while others went the potluck route; there were contests and games for children and adults.

St. Paul Park residents convened at Heritage Park for food and to mingle with public safety officials. The scene was similar in Newport, where Night to Unite was held at Newport Lutheran Church. Many of the parties were starting to wind down when a storm moved through the area and cut short the evening’s activities.

 -Scott Wente

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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