'Night Out' has a large turnout
August 4, 2023
Across Carlton County and the nation, Tuesday night saw residents, law enforcement, firefighters and others getting to know one another just a little bit better.
While the idea that meeting your neighbors and public safety officials will help build a safer community remains at the core of National Night Out celebrations everywhere, each gathering is unique.
In Scanlon Tuesday, local elected officials were out in force, along with a number of police officers and firefighters. Several - including area fire district chief Jesse Buhs and Cloquet police chief Derek Randall - arrived with family members for the community meal, which featured pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches made by Bethel Lutheran Church and free kettle corn from the Disabled American Veterans. Intentional or not, it demonstrated an "everyday person" side of public safety, most of them there with family as well.
A couple miles away, at Veterans Park, Fond du Lac and Cloquet police officers held foot races with kids of all ages, offered swag and conversation, applied temporary tattoos and generally mingled with the large crowd while firefighters and EMTs handled truck tours, an inflatable "fire station" for kids and at least one bloody nose.
In Esko there were lots of bubbles, and a huge line for a free hot dog dinner. Carlton moved its meal inside the Four Seasons event center to escape rain. Many other communities and neighborhoods held events.
Scanlon mayor Ron Stigers said it was the first time he remembers Scanlon holding a National Night Out event at the community center, although he was part of hosting a smaller neighborhood gathering in past years. Stigers said he wanted to make it communitywide to bring people together.
Scanlon resident Bill Drazich, who walked from his home a block or two away, said he was happy he attended the community gathering as he waited out the rain and chatted with the new mayor.
Dawn Zeleznikar, who led a citizen committee to bring back the large Veterans Park celebration in Cloquet, said the turnout was great.
"I'm glad the rain stopped, because we just started getting more and more people," she said.
Cloquet police Sgt. Kyle Voltzke was glad to see the celebration return to Veterans Park after Covid-19 derailed the previous police-run community cookout.
"It's good to be out here again," Volzke said. "Especially with the Eagles [and the committee] running it, we get to hang out more. That's a lot better."
Will it return to Veterans Park next year?
"I think so," Zeleznikar said. "That was the big question: whether people wanted it down here again, if the officers wanted it here or do smaller community events.
Find a gallery of Tuesday night photos at PineKnotNews.com
Editor's note: This story was updated Aug. 8 to correct the name of Scanlon's Bethel Lutheran Church.