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Whalan celebrates 30th anniversary of National Night Out

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Aug 9th, 2013
Posted in Whalan Features

Citizens of Whalan, Minn. spent an evening together as part of the National Night Out events. Photo by Kirsten Zoellner

Officially dubbed “America’s night out against crime,” National Night Out was organized by the National Association of Town Watch. “Dedicated to the development and promotion of various crime prevention programs, the introduction of National Night Out, ‘America’s Night Out Against Crime’, in 1984 began an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.” Held each year on the first Tuesday in August, the inaugural Night Out drew 2.5 million participants.

The event now boasts over 37 million people in over 15,000 communities from all 50 states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide. “The traditional ‘lights on’ campaign and symbolic front porch vigils turned into a celebration across America,” says the organization.

More than 30 Whalan area residents, of all ages, gathered Tuesday to stand their ground against crime. Spread out around the town’s inviting park pavilion, the event was organized by lifetime Whalan resident Ernie Johnson and his wife, Joan. However, Ernie is quick to give his wife credit for putting it all together. “She made posters and we went to every house in town. We started around 1pm yesterday and finished about 4pm,” he laughed.

“We also went around the area to those that are active in helping with the community,” added Joan. “We pretty much know each other, but more are coming in to the area.”

Beginning at 6pm, the event included an introduction and welcome from Joan Johnson, traditional blessing, potluck-style supper, and a meet-and-greet with a Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department deputy. Two local ladies were also treated to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday sung by the group, which invoked laughter and at least two friendly jabs about age.

“This is a great event,” said Joan. “We encourage you to talk, meet your neighbor, and have fun.”

According to the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Department, three other local communities participated in the national event; Chatfield, Minn., Greenleafton, Minn., and Harmony, Minn.

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