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Night to Unite celebrations planned across south Washington County

Cottage Grove police reserve officers Jason Harder (left) and Steve Hotaling interact with kids at a 2014 Night to Unite party in the Mississippi Dues neighborhood. (Bulletin file photo)

Neighbors across south Washington County are joining forces with local law enforcement officials next week in an effort to promote camaraderie and the continued efforts toward a crime-free community.

The annual Night to Unite celebration, observed by communities around the country the first Tuesday in August, is an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each other and have positive interaction with their local public safety departments. This year, the cities of Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport are participating with individual and city-wide events.

“Night to Unite will celebrate and strengthen neighborhoods and community partnerships,” said Cottage Grove police officer Gail Griffith.

Cottage Grove

Along with the Cottage Grove Public Safety Board, Griffith has organized the annual Night to Unite celebration for many years, providing party-goers with supplies and visits from some famous faces. Neighborhood parties in Cottage Grove registered by July 28 will receive balloons and a Cub Foods box full of supplies. Each party will be visited by local elected officials, Strawberry Fest Ambassadors, the police K-9 and his handler, officer Mike Vandervort, Scruff McGruff, or a member from Target or Culver’s.

A select few parties will win 40 hotdogs courtesy of Bonngard’s Meats, or the Public Safety Board might swing by with a water balloon toss.

Those that register in Cottage Grove also have the opportunity to turn their party into a charitable event with the Fill the Backpack or Paper Product campaigns. All school supplies and paper products collected at parties will be donated to the Friends in Need Food Shelf.

Griffith said over 40 individual parties have been registered throughout Cottage Grove.

St. Paul Park

Those down the road in St. Paul Park are invited to gather at Heritage Park for an evening of family-friendly outdoor activities. The event will take place rain or shine, and includes food, members of the city’s public safety departments and fun for all ages.

Those wishing to support the event or volunteer should contact St. Paul Park police officer Mike Knudson at 651-459-9785, ext. 112.

The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Heritage Park, 1345 Laurel Ave.

Newport

Neighbors in Newport are invited to celebrate Night to Unite at Newport Lutheran Church, where the city’s police and fire departments will interact with residents and display their equipment. Food, kids’ games and community organization displays will be available.

The event takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. at Newport Lutheran Church, 900 15th St.

“Night to Unite is designed for neighbors to get to know one another in your neighborhood, build neighborhood involvement by bringing police and communities together, and to bring awareness to crime prevention and local law enforcement efforts,” Griffith said.

For more information about Night to Unite, which is Tuesday, Aug. 4, visit the websites of the cities of Cottage Grove, St. Paul Park and Newport at www.cottage-grove.org; www.stpaulpark.govoffice.com; or www.ci.newport.mn.us.

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