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Night to Unite set for Tuesday, with free meal, kids' activities planned

Four kids bikes will be given away at the event, along with other prizes such as bike helmets and basketballs, and there will be plenty of activities for children to enjoy too.

Worthington's Jake Walker and his K-9 partner Winston hold a meet-and-greet with kids at the Night to Unite of 2019. That was the last time the event was held, due to a hiatus prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Worthington's Jake Walker and his K-9 partner Winston hold a meet-and-greet with kids at the Night to Unite of 2019. That was the last time the event was held, due to a hiatus prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tim Middagh/The Globe
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UPDATE: The Night to Unite has been moved to the JBS Fieldhouse, due to extreme heat forecasts.

WORTHINGTON — Everyone is invited to the Night to Unite celebration from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Centennial Park in Worthington.

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Worthington Police Department’s annual event focuses on neighbors joining together and this year, includes a free meal of pork burgers, chips, pop and water, plus kids’ activities and a chance to meet with public safety personnel of all kinds.

“We’re hoping for nice weather,” said Detective Sgt. Brandon Peil of the WPD, who has been organizing the event since 2014. “It’s a great way for the community to get together and meet new (WPD) officers.”

Four bikes for youngsters will be given away at the event, along with other prizes such as bike helmets and basketballs, and there will be plenty of activities for children to enjoy too, including a bouncy house and rock painting with Southwest Crisis Center.

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Many emergency response organizations will be there to show their equipment and answer questions from the public. The WPD will bring its emergency response unit, which is used for high-risk entries, as well as members of its police reserves, and the Worthington Fire Department and Sanford Ambulance will both have vehicles and personnel there to meet with community members.

The event is mainly paid for through sponsorships — JBS provides the meat and W-2’s Quality Meats makes the patties, with HyVee, Walmart and Fareway providing chips and sides. DJ Barry Roberts will provide music for the event too, helping bring more of a barbecue atmosphere to the celebration.

Other sponsors include The Globe, RadioWorks, the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association, Sanford and the WPD.

The Dakota Players, an outreach of the Black Hills Playhouse, will come to Worthington and lead participating kids through an entire theater program in just one week.

Peil emphasized the importance of a positive relationship between the public and public safety personnel in responding to calls and solving crimes.

“Having that good relationship, people are more likely to step forward with more information, and feel more comfortable reaching out to us,” Peil said, inviting everyone to attend.

He did note that the meal is first-come, first-serve, and often they start running out of food around 6:15 p.m.

This year will be the first year back for Night to Unite since it went on hiatus in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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