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Splashy fun at Alexandria's City Park for Community Night Out

The three-hour event featured booths from organizations across Alexandria, games, prizes and food.

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Children splashed and played through the water emitting from Alexandria Fire Department's Ladder 28 bucket at Community Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press
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ALEXANDRIA — Despite temperatures reaching the high 80s and humidity hanging thick in the air, a healthy crowd came out to Alexandria City Park for the annual Community Night Out, "Growing Stronger by Building Strong Community Partnerships," hosted by the Alexandria Police Department on Tuesday, Aug. 2.

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Alexandria Chief of Police Scott Kent poses with Rhyan Clark, 6, after her name was drawn to win one of the bikes given away by the police department.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

"It's just a fun night," said Alexandria Chief of Police Scott Kent. "A lot of giveaways. A lot of community aspects. (You) get to know your city officials and get to know your police department, but more importantly, see your neighbors — connect with your neighbors."

For three hours, from 5 to 8 p.m., the park was filled with community members' laughter and chatter just audible over the rumbles of the fire engines. Hot dog aromas wafted in the air. Booths from Alexandria organizations gave away swag — some provided games and activities. And the tennis courts adjacent to the playground were filled with friendly pickleball matches.

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While wearing a plastic firefighters helmet, Kayden Hearon, 6, of Alexandria, is doused with water from Ladder 28's bucket.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

"It's just a great community event," said Alexandrian Shawnda Geiselhart. "It's a really great way to learn about other programs going on in the community and it's family-friendly."

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Reya Holmstrom, 5, of Alexandria, gets her face painted at Community Night Out on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

A Minnesota Towards Zero Deaths booth featured a device that simulated what it feels like to be in a five to 10-mile-per-hour crash while seatbelted. Alexandria Civil Air patrol brought in an "experimental" plane for people to sit in and take photos. And the Early Education Center displayed playable yard games.

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One booth offered custom face painting.

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Quinn Johnson, 2, of Alexandria, holds ballons under Ladder 28's water spewing bucket.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

The APD raffled four bikes to two girls and two boys and Life Link III made a landing on the grassy lot across from the playground followed by a tour of the air ambulance.
Perhaps the most fun for the children — and the best way to beat Tuesday's heat — was the water raining down on the parking lot from Ladder 28's bucket — The Alexandria Fire Department's newest aerial truck.

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With a smile on his face, Santiago Robles, 2, runs through the saturated City Park parking lot.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Smiles were perma-fixed on local children as they ran, skipped, jumped, danced, and played under the bucket, most of them toting red plastic firefighter helmets provided by the AFD. Some used the helmets to collect the water and splash one another.

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Bode Geiselhart, who turns two in a week, feels the water on City Park's parking lot raining down from the Alexandria Fire Department's newest aerial truck—Ladder 28.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

All in all, the event served its purpose, to bring community members together.

"Community is important," said Sandra S, 23, of Alexandria. "I like it a lot more than where I came from."

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Children gather near a curb along City Park's parking lot and fill their plastic firefighter helmets with water. One child douses another with his collected water.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Sandra moved to Alexandria from Chicago about six years ago. She said Chicago is a rough place that used to have community events and block parties but because of the rising crime rate, they have mostly come to an end.

"I like being out here where we can be a part of the people and meet new people. It's great," she said.

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Alexandria Police Sergeant Brian Kakach, right, talks to community members about some of Alexandria Police Department's newest equipment.
Thalen Zimmerman / Alexandria Echo Press

Sandra said since moving to Alex, she has joined groups within the area that helped her feel like a part of the community.

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"It's so fun to see your neighbors again," said Kent. "It's really just about growing as a community."

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.
A new episode is released every Tuesday and Thursday, giving readers a brief look at the stories found in Wednesday's and Friday's papers.