PR and Akeley police host "Night to Unite"

This year's Night to Unite, promoting cooperation between law enforcement and the community, will be held Tuesday, Aug. 7, in both Park Rapids and Akeley.

Park Rapids Police Chief Jeff Appel hands out stickers as other officers visit with people stopping by the booth during the annual Night to Unite event held Tuesday in Heartland Park. (Photos by Kevin Cederstrom/Enterprise)
Park Rapids Police Chief Jeff Appel said one of the best parts of the annual Night to Unite event is getting to visit with people in the community. (Enterprise file photo)

This year's Night to Unite, promoting cooperation between law enforcement and the community, will be held Tuesday, Aug. 7, in both Park Rapids and Akeley.

Park Rapids event

Chief of Police Jeff Appel said various law enforcement officers will be hosting the event at Heartland Park in Park Rapids from 5 to 7 p.m.

Highlights planned for the Park Rapids event include a Life Flight helicopter landing tentatively scheduled for 5 p.m., weather and availability permitting, a K-9 demonstration at 6 p.m. and two brand new bikes. Raffle prizes include bike helmets, elbow pads and more. A free meal will be served, and all youth who attend will receive some free goodies. There are also plans in the works for a SWAT team demonstration.

Fire equipment, squad cars, an ambulance, boats and ATVs will be at the park too along with the staff who use them.


"It's a great night for community outreach," Appel said. "We can chat with members of the public and it's amazing the connection that are made during that night. It's a chance to meet some of the officers, see some of the equipment and get a face-to-face with the community."

More information is available on their Facebook page or by calling the Park Rapids Police Department at 237-2711.

Brian Halbasch is the Emergency Manager at the Hubbard County Sheriff's Office and one of the organizers of the Park Rapids event which has been held annually since 2013.

"Different agencies and offices are working together to coordinate the Night to Unite," he said. "It's in conjunction with the National Night Out to bring neighbors together and share the importance of public safety. We're all working together to strengthen partnerships and community bonds and show people what we do and why we do it. It's like a show and tell for the kids."

Akeley Night to Unite will be at Paul's Patio

Akeley's Night to Unite will be held at Paul's Patio near the Paul Bunyan statue. The fun begins at 4 p.m. with fun and prizes for the kids.

Police Chief Jimmy Hansen will host the event and be on hand to talk with residents.The city of Akeley helped fund this event.

"I look at this National Night Out as an important tool," Hansen said. It's about making friends and building bridges. We have more resources when everyone works together. It's also a fun time. National Night Out was set up so people would get to know their neighbors.That way if they see something strange in their neighborhood, or something that's negative they will recognize it and get more information. I even think in our small town of Akeley that's important. With what we've done in the last six months with our drug enforcement, community support played an important role.


By getting together with our neighbors and fellow citizens, we get to know who lives in our community. If somebody needs support they will know who to go to."

Free food will be served at 5 p.m. Hot dogs, chips, lemonade and ice cream bars are on the menu.

Music also begins at 5 p.m.

"This is something new for the Akeley Night Out," Hansen said. "Casey Aro, a Finnish folklore musician and storyteller from Hibbing will be performing. He'll keep people laughing and add a Scandinavian theme to our event."

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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