Fun for everyone

Annual National Night Out brings Evart community together

Sprawled on the grass eating hamburgers or lined up at one of the many informational booths, dozens of families and their children arrived at Riverside Park on Tuesday, Aug. 2, to enjoy National Night Out festivities.

The Evart police and fire departments and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs organized this year’s local celebration of the national event, aimed at building stronger relationships between police and their communities. This year marked the 10th annual event in Evart.

“I think it’s excellent to see so many people out here having fun,” said John Beam, Evart’s police chief. “We see all sorts of conflicts in our job, and in a small community, everyone knows everyone else. Yet, everyone is out here to have a good time. They may not always get along with each other, but they put their differences aside and the focus is on the kids having fun.”

That sense of community brought the Stack family to Riverside Park Tuesday night, to show their support for the local police officers and firefighters.

“With modern media, any positive interaction with (police) is always good,” said Lindsey Stack, as her husband and children sat in the grass eating hamburgers. “It’s good for (the kids) to see that it’s not exactly what they see on TV.”

Stack joined other parents and grandparents who felt it’s important for children to see officers and firefighters interacting with children.

Linda Foster’s granddaughter, Mariah, and many other children were busy getting their fingerprints and photos put on a CD, as part of the Michigan Child ID Program at the local Masonic Lodge’s booth. The information on each CD can become a valuable tool for law enforcement if the child goes missing.

“I think (the event) is an excellent thing for the community,” Foster said, of her first time at the National Night Out event. “It gives Mariah a chance to check out all the organizations and learn about being safe.”

Taking part in his first National Night Out event in Evart, Osceola County Sheriff’s Deputy Dakota Saez could only watch as his stash of small emblems and stickers was nearly gone.

“It’s good to get out and communicate with the community like this,” he said. “You get to talk with people and get to know the kids in a fun environment for everyone.”

Michigan State Police Trooper Brian Lucha was more than happy to be at Tuesday’s event. A 2003 graduate of Evart High School, Lucha begins each shift in Osceola County.

“It’s great to engage so many people, especially growing up around here,” he said. “I’m happy to be out here. This is just another chance to give back to the community.”

Lucha praised the Evart Police Department and the other organizations for making the event possible.

“A lot of credit goes to the police department and the other organization for putting this together,” he said. “There’s a great relationship between all these different departments and organizations.”

In his eighth year of helping organize National Night Out festivities, Beam said it takes a lot of work to get it to come together.

“It takes a lot of work by everyone, from going out and getting donations for prizes and coordinating with these other organizations,” he said. “Our main goal is to make it enjoyable as possible for everyone here.

“It’s what I love about our small community,” he continued. “It’s awesome everyone can come together like this. From police, fire and all these other organizations, it’s great outreach for us, and we get to build a stronger community doing this. We’re definitely grateful for our sponsors and everyone out here. If not for them, this definitely wouldn’t be successful.”