By Kelly Terpstra, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bringing the community together — that’s National Night Out in a nutshell.
Hundreds of area residents made their way to Central Park in Charles City Tuesday to attend National Night Out — a national campaign that helps build camaraderie between the public and law enforcement.
The evening was a definite hit, especially considering the late afternoon showers that came down earlier in the day that threatened to put a damper on the event.
But the sky cleared up and it was the perfect opportunity for many to take in all that the night had to offer.
Community–oriented police officer Duane Ollendick was one of many who helped get everything in line to run smoothly. He said he was happy about the turnout and for the public to be able to recognize officers they see out and about on patrol.
“A lot of times people just see a car go by. They never get to see the officers or meet the officers. It’s a good way to at least talk to them and ask questions,” Ollendick said.
Ollendick also talked about creating a positive rapport with individuals, something that can be overshadowed by negative news or misinformation.
“Normally you see in the news only the bad things that happen. You never see the good things. That’s what we’re trying to show. We’re not always out there writing you a ticket or arresting you,” said Ollendick. “We’re there to help.”
Anyone who came up to the park could get a free meal of hamburger or hot dog, chips and a drink. Sno-cones and popcorn were also on the menu, free of charge.
Stewart Dalton, who helped serve the food, said he and others handed out about 400 meals.
Students could receive backpacks full of school supplies and the Back to School Shoe Drive gave away about 200 shoes, according to organizer Mackenzie Wilson.
There was a Jaws of Life demonstration and the Mercy Air Med helicopter landed in the parking lot adjacent to Central Park a little after 7 p.m. Kids were also able to hop in the back seat of the helicopter.
There was also a display for Jordy, the Charles City Police Department’s new K-9 narcotics dog. He should be able to join the force in early to mid-September, according to K-9 officer Dario Gamino.
Donations to help pay to purchase, train and care for Jordy have been coming in really well, according to Police Chief Hugh Anderson.
“It’s phenomenal the generosity of this community,” Anderson said.