What a night

Tuesday, Aug. 5 is the 20th anniversary of National Night Out and it’s set to be the biggest crime-fighting event ever in Oak Harbor.

“The community is a lot more involved this year than before,” Oak Harbor Police Officer Steve Nordstrand said. “There’s twice as many people signed up to be there.”

For the first time, a committee of community members has put together the event, instead of relying on busy police officers. The party starts at noon at City Beach Park, which is four hours earlier than it normally begins. Expect far more than the 4,000 people who attended last year.

As always, there will be plenty of fun for the whole family, including a climbing wall, food, go-carts, a police dog demonstration, helicopters, and best of all, a golf cart course with drunk-vision goggles.

The purpose of National Night Out, according to Nordstrand, is to “give crime the boot” by building community spirit, strengthening ties between the police and residents, educating the public about services that are available, and heightening awareness about crime and safety concerns.

Also, the event is a national competition sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch. Myron Brundage, the chairman of Oak Harbor’s National Night Out committee, explained that cities and towns across the country compete with similar-sized communities to put on the best show.

Nordstrand said the best Oak Harbor has ever done in the past is number eight ”This year we’re going for first place,” he said.

They may have a shot at the gold. Brundage, who’s the owner of A-Lot-of Rings & Things and Ault Field Wireless, said there will be at least 60 booths set up, not counting food. Inside the booths will be retail-type salespeople, law enforcement agencies, service organization and artists.

While law enforcement booths were set off in a separate area in the past, this year they will be all mixed together so that nobody will feel intimidated.

“There will be the Avon Lady, the FBI, Tupperware, the DEA,” Brundage said.

The event is supposed to start with a fly-over of Navy aircraft. Helicopters from the DEA and Navy Search and Rescue will give demonstrations. Brundage said there will be antique tractors, an old prospector selling gold nugget jewelry, a dunk tank, Whidbey Cruzers, go-carts and the lawnmower racing club is putting on “push lawnmower races for kids.”

In addition, organizers are putting on a simulated drowning at the lagoon. The lifeguards will pull the victim out and then EMTs will take over. Then there will be police dog demonstrations by both the Oak Harbor police and the Navy.

Brundage said the event will feature plenty of live music. A group of guys from Everett, called “Old Time and Country Music,” will play that old-timey music on banjos, guitars and accordions from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Believe it or not, they rock,” he said.

Of course, a parade of police, firefighters and other emergency response personnel is bound to be a big hit. It’s scheduled to start at 4:15 p.m. at the Oak Harbor Fire Department, then travel down the highway to City Beach Park.

Yet the most popular part of the event may be the DUI-goggle gold cart course. Nordstrand explained that kids — or willing adults — will first get the chance to drive the golf carts through the course without the goggles. Afterward, they will put on special goggles that simulate intoxication and drive the course again.

Crashes, laughs and learning will inevitably result.

“It should be a lot of fun,” Brundage said. “There’s a little bit for everybody.”


joins the fun

Coupeville is jumping on the National Night Out bandwagon by presenting its own event Tuesday, Aug. 5.

“We’re testing the waters on it. I want it to be a big event,” said Deputy Brent Durly, crime prevention officer for the Town Marshal’s Office.

Coupeville’s Night Out will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Farmers Market property on North Main Street.

Residents can stop by and pick up a variety of crime fighting information and get their kids’ fingerprints taken. Firefighting, ambulance and police vehicles will be on display, McGuff the crime dog will entertain kids, there will be a bicycle safety inspection site, and if you get hungry Coupe’s Last Stand will sell hotdogs and other favorites.

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