DULUTH – Residents gathered in their neighborhoods Tuesday night for the 38th annual National Night. The event is an annual community-building campaign that promotes interaction and camaraderie between emergency service providers and neighbors, according to the National Night Out website. It always takes place on the first Tuesday of August.
More than 60 neighborhoods, churches and community clubs held events across Duluth and Hermantown. For some, like Charlene Aaseng, it was purely a good opportunity to get to know their neighbours.
“We used to go to an event a bit further away because we didn’t have one in our neighborhood, but new people started planning this one,” Aaseng said of the DC party. Square Park in Lakeside. “It’s a great opportunity to chat with the neighbors.”
Aaeseng’s daughter, Ainsley, said she enjoyed sitting in the cabin of a fire truck that visited the party around 7 p.m. Lakeside Station 6 firefighters handed out stickers and demonstrated the systems on the fire truck.
Peter Lancrete, aka DJ Disco Inferno, played danceable tunes and offered pearls to all who joined in the dancing. He also led the dances with his wife, Jenny Lancrete, and with the enthusiastic participation of his neighbor, Ella Hom.
The festive mood was also present at the Hermantown Fire Department, where a community rally was held. The event included a blood drive, free food and lots of community service information. Outside the fire department, children tried their hand at aiming a fire hose at a rotating target. Hermantown resident Beth McClimek said her daughter, Lila Herdman, came specifically for this.
“It was his favorite part of the event last year,” McClimek said. “She was thrilled to do it again.”
Hermantown Fire Chief Mike Marshall said the event was a good opportunity for people to see what the fire department is doing. “We definitely need volunteers and if we can recruit a few that would be great,” he said.
Marshall also said it was nice to see people in nicer circumstances than usual. “Because of the services we provide, we often see people when they are going through the worst time in their life,” he said. “So it’s good to get to know each other a bit under better circumstances.”
Community parties were also popular with political candidates. State Senator Jen McEwen, DFL-Duluth, stopped by the Norton Park Community Club and Norton Park United Methodist Church party to meet with some of her constituents.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for neighbors to get together around town,” McEwen said. “We have these really neat niches and distinct neighborhoods that people are very proud of. So tonight is just a special night to meet people from your community.”
Norton Park Community Club president Tim Freitag agreed with McEwen’s sentiment. “Now is the time to meet one-on-one,” he said. “Which is really useful for me with the community club.”
This year’s party was a little different for the club as normally it would be held in the Norton Park Community Club building, but this was closed in 2020 and has no plans to reopen.
“So it’s a bit harder for us to meet as a neighborhood,” Freitag said. “So we have to take advantage of those moments when we can.”