Games, food, live music, squad cars, fire trucks and a large crowd of attendees filled the Lake Wobegon Trailhead park the evening of Aug. 6 in Avon. The community gathered to partake in National Night Out 2019.

The nationwide initiative, held the first Tuesday in August, promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie. Thousands of communities across the United States take part in the event with festivals, block parties, safety demonstrations, seminars and more. 

Avon’s NNO was organized by community members with help from the Avon Police and Fire Departments, and was made possible by volunteers and donations from local businesses.

The idea of a community-wide NNO was spurred several years ago by Avon Police Chief Corey Nellis.

“Nellis mentioned to me that it would be great to have one location for NNO instead of moving equipment to individual neighborhoods,” said Julie Jarnot, Avon resident and one of the NNO organizers. “We began planning for a community-wide night out for Avon in late June.”

The event was incredibly successful, Jarnot said. A variety of activities for children and adults was available that night, including live music from the Better Man Duo, children’s games, a bounce castle, obstacle course, a tug-of-war contest between different neighborhoods and a donut eating contest between law enforcement officers and firefighters. The Avon Boy Scouts had a food stand as well.

The event organizers were pleasantly surprised to find more people attended than anticipated.

“We thought if we had 100-150 people attend, it would be a great night. We’re hearing comments that there was probably 500,” Jarnot said.

A few words were given from Avon Mayor Jeff Manthe and Stearns County Sheriff Steve Soyka, who both welcomed attendees and thanked them for attending. Officers from the Avon Police Department, Stearns County Sheriff’s Department and members of the Avon Fire Department were also present, visiting with community members and showing families the fire trucks and police cars. Maverick, the Avon K9 police dog, also made an appearance. At the end of the evening, the Better Man Duo dedicated a song to all first responders at the event.

“It was overwhelming to capture these heroes in one spot,” Jarnot said. “I want to give a huge shout out to law enforcement officers, firefighters and the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office for protecting our community.”

Area residents are already looking forward to next year’s NNO, excited to partake in the festivities once more.

“[The event organizers] were so excited to see the community come together for our first community national night out,” Jarnot said. “We would like to thank our sponsors once again and the team of volunteers that used their talents and gifts to make this event a very fun, family friendly community event. We can’t wait to do it again next year!”