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National Night Out set to break records in Rochester

August 5, 2018

Neighborhoods across the nation will take to the streets Tuesday night for National Night Out, and southeastern Minnesota is no exception.

From small gatherings to townwide celebrations, communities across the region have plans to get out of their homes, greet their neighbors and meet a few of their first responders.

As of Wednesday morning, 32 parties were registered with the Olmsted County Sheriff’s Office, according to Capt. Scott Behrns. In Rochester, the number of parties has the department’s National Night Out coordinator, Darrel Hildebrant, flabbergasted.

“They are just rolling in,” Hildebrant, who also is the Rochester Police Department’s advanced crime prevention/CPTED specialist, said Wednesday of the number of registered parties. Already, 510 parties had been registered with the Rochester police — about 80 more than the previous year.

Hildebrant said the parties range in size from 12 to more than 1,000 people. The night also can be celebrated in a number of different ways, including ice cream socials, root beer float bars and potlucks.

In addition to an ever-growing number of parties, Hildebrant said he’s seen a decent number of new names amongst the hosts.

“It’s a good way to get to know your neighbors,” he said. “That is what the night is all about.”

In Winona, city police host an event at the East Recreation Center, 210 Zumbro St., featuring live music, a basketball skills challenge and a chance to see a fire truck up close, according to Bridget Klinger, the department’s community liaison officer.

“It’s just a lot of fun for people to come out and hang out, do some fun stuff in the summer,” she said.

The event begins at 5 p.m. with live music scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and an outdoor screening of the movie “Wonder” set to begin at 9 p.m.

In Kasson, about a dozen events were registered with the police department as of Wednesday. Krista Weigel, the department’s emergency services administrative assistant, said she still was hoping to get a few more parties added to the list.

“We’ll take registration right up until the day of, just because we want to try and get to as many parities we can,” Weigel said. Unlike in years past, the department will not be holding an event at the park.

In Austin, residents are invited to a gathering at the city’s Bandshell Community Park, Fourth Street and Ninth Place Southwest, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Austin Police Officer Chad Norman and Sgt. Kim Lenz are responsible for organizing the annual event. Norman said the department was hoping to attract around 1,500. The event will feature hotdogs, chips and pop donated from Hormel and Hy-Vee, Norman said.

Emergency vehicles will be on display and community will have the chance to talk to officers about crime prevention efforsts.

“We get to meet a lot of kids and kids get to see us in a relaxed environment. It’s also a great way for families ... it’s a free supper thanks to our sponsors,” Norman said. “The mission is to strengthen police community partnerships and send a message out to the criminals that the citizens of Austin are united in fighting back against crime.”

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