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Baxter community gathers for Night to Unite

The Baxter Police Department hosted Night to Unite Tuesday, Aug. 3, at Oscar Kristofferson Park.

police officer and dog pose with a girl
Officer Taylor Halverson and Amelia Fields pose with Timber, a member of Baxter Police Department's K9 Unit at Night to Unite, Tuesday, August 2, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch
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BAXTER — Despite the heavy humidity, the sound of music and children’s laughter echoed throughout the park.

The Baxter Police Department hosted Night to Unite Tuesday, Aug. 3, at Oscar Kristofferson Park. Night to Unite connects to a national event that has more than one name — some cities call it National Night Out — but shares one idea — for the community to get out and meet each other.

“Our goal is to bring the community together, not only with law enforcement, but it's to bring in the community, the neighborhoods, the members of the businesses,” said Matt Maier, the assistant chief of the Baxter Police Department. “We have a wide variety of different companies here that want to be a part of the community. They're bringing in all their resources and trying to share what they have to offer with the community. The whole purpose is to get everybody out and to meet each other.”

Night to Unite or National Night Out happens on the first Tuesday of August every year and is meant to unite the community. The city of Baxter has participated in the get-together for over a decade now and looks forward to continuing it in the future.

For the city of Baxter, Night to Unite is a way to get out and meet your neighbors, government officials and law enforcement. Many groups from the community were there to help make the night an enjoyable one for everyone in attendance.

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The Lions Club had a table of root beer floats and was helping to serve food under the pavilion and Home Depot brought a wood project for the children to put together. In addition to the projects, there were also bouncy houses set up for the kids attending.

a mother and son work on a wood project
Ethan and Mandy Carroll work on a wood project that was provided by Home Depot at Night to Unite, Tuesday, August 2, 2022.
Sara Guymon / Brainerd Dispatch

"It's fun to get out and it's a great event,” said Mandy Carroll, who attended the event with her son Ethan. “Lots of fun for the kids."

One of the most popular things was the Baxter Police Department’s presentation including Timber, the furry member of the K-9 unit.

“If we can show the young children the side of public safety and the different things that we have to offer, our hope is obviously that they're never afraid of us and that they see us as just another person,” Maier said.

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The event was also a way to highlight Oscar Kristofferson Park.

“It gives us a chance to showcase our parks,” said Baxter Mayor Darrel Olson. “A lot of people don't realize what's here or what's available. We just redid our park's equipment. It gives everybody a chance to see how their tax dollars are spent.”

Night to Unite will take place again next year on Aug. 1, 2023.

SARA GUYMON, Brainerd Dispatch, staff writer, may be reached at 218-855-5851 or sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com

Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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