'A chance to meet your neighbors': Northland residents celebrate National Night Out
Many community celebrations were held Tuesday evening as part of the annual event, which aims to strengthen communities.
DULUTH — Residents gathered together in their neighborhoods Tuesday evening for the 38th annual National Night Out. The event is an annual community-building campaign that promotes interaction and camaraderie among emergency service providers and neighbors, according to the National Night Out website. It's always held the first Tuesday in August.
Over 60 neighborhoods, churches and community clubs organized events throughout Duluth and Hermantown. For some, such as Charlene Aaseng, it was purely a good chance to get to know their neighbors.
"We used go to an event a little further away since we didn't have one in our neighborhood, but then new people started planning this one," Aaseng said about the party in Washington Square Park in Lakeside. "It's a nice chance to chat with neighbors."
Aaeseng's daughter, Ainsley, said she liked sitting in the cab of a fire truck that visited the party around 7 p.m. Firefighters from Lakeside Station 6 gave out stickers and demonstrated systems on the fire truck.
Peter Lancrete, aka DJ Disco Inferno, spun danceable tunes and gave away beads to anyone who joined in the dancing. He also led the dances with his wife, Jenny Lancrete, and with enthusiastic participation from his neighbor, Ella Hom.
The party atmosphere was also present at the Hermantown Fire Department, where a community-wide get-together was held. The event included a blood drive, free food and lots of community services information. Outside the fire department, kids tried their hand at aiming a fire hose at a spinable target. Hermantown resident Beth McClimek said her daughter, Lila Herdman, came specifically for that.
"It was her absolute favorite part of the event last year," McClimek said. "She's been excited to do it again."
Hermantown Fire Chief Mike Marshall said the event was a good opportunity for people to see what the fire department does. "We're definitely in need of volunteers and if we can recruit a few people from this, that would be great," he said.
Marshall also said it was nice to see people under more pleasant circumstances than usual. "Because of the services we offer, we often see people when they're having the worst moment in their lives," he said. "So it's nice to get to know us a little bit under better circumstances."
Community parties were also popular with political candidates. State Sen. Jen McEwen, DFL-Duluth, stopped by the Norton Park Community Club and Norton Park United Methodist Church party to meet with some of her constituents.
"It's a wonderful opportunity for neighbors to get together around the city," McEwen said. "We have these really neat niches and distinct neighborhoods that people take a lot of pride in. So tonight's just a special night to meet up with people in your community."
Norton Park Community Club President Tim Freitag agreed with McEwen's sentiment. "It's a time to meet face-to-face," he said. "Which is really helpful for me with the community club."
This year's party was a little different for the club as normally it would be held at the Norton Park Community Club building, but that was closed in 2020 and doesn't have a planned reopening.
"So it's a little harder for us to meet as a neighborhood," Freitag said. "So we have to take advantage of these times when we can."