Southeast Minnesotans joined millions of people across the country to celebrate National Night Out on Tuesday.
"National Night Out (NNO) is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live," according to the event's official website.
There were dozens of NNO events in Southeast Minnesota Tuesday night, including one at Eckstein Athletic Field in Plainview. Hosted by the Plainview Police Department, the event was a chance for families to interact with first responders, learn about safety, and climb into police, EMS and fire vehicles.
Police Chief Tim Schneider said the event has grown quite a bit in recent years and plays a vital role in the community.
"I think anytime that you can get the community out and involved and shake hands and just build relationships that go to strengthen the community as a whole," said Chief Schneider. "I think that as we get to know the people that live here, they're more comfortable with -- whether it's coming to us with their problems or being comfortable with who shows up at their house when they have an emergency, whether it be fire or a medical problem -- I think those relationships are key."
Other locations that featured NNO events included East Center Street near the Boys & Girls Club of Rochester, where a large group of kids got to enjoy free food, games, and a chance to talk with police. In Kutzky Park, the Neighborhood Association hosted a gathering as well.
National Night Out has been going on for 34 years. The event is celebrated in all 50 states, various U-S territories, cities in Canada and military bases worldwide. According to the official NNO website, 38 million people in 16,000 communities take part.