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New name, same great activities; Night to Unite set for August 4 at Elmwood Park

An event that is marking its 15th year in the West Fargo community will be offering the same, great activities with a brand new name. The annual

National Night Out celebration is now being called "Night to Unite," but nothing else about the popular evening of fun and learning has changed. The focus remains the same, accenting the theme of "neighbors joining together" in a quest to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for participation in local anticrime programs, strengthen neighborhood spirit, and most importantly, send a message to criminals that local neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen said the name was changed to conform with neighboring departments in Minnesota who also made the switch from National Night Out to Night to Unite after a unanimous vote by the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association Board. "Since we work so closely with our sister agencies in Minnesota and have already combined so many of our assets and manpower, we felt it was only natural for the cities of West Fargo, Fargo and, of course, Cass County to join in this change, continuing to foster the strong relationship we have with neighboring communities," Rasmussen said. "We would like to ask for your continued support of our local law enforcement agencies and the community as we make the exciting transition to "Night to Unite," and celebrate these partnerships in preventing crime."

Each year, the event is highly anticipated by hundreds of families in West Fargo and surrounding communities the first Tuesday in August - this year August 4. The numbers attending each year keep growing, with last year's totals estimated at 3,000 people visiting West Fargo's Elmwood Park and taking in everything the evening had to offer.

If the weather cooperates, organizers are expecting this year's numbers to be even greater, as citizens, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhoods, and local officials, gather from 5 to 9 p.m. to observe the event.

Hosted by the West Fargo Police Department, the evening will once again be filled with a variety of fun activities, especially for the younger children, including a host of educational learning experiences, demonstrations, entertainment, food vendors, and information booths, just to name a few. Members of the West Fargo Police Department staff working hard to ensure that those attending have a great time include: Chief of Police Arland Rasmussen, Officer Terry Styf, Chris Sandeen, Nicole Nold, Marcy Overby, Brandie Dixon, Joanna Mack, and Melanie Fjestad.

Organizers say they would encourage everyone to attend the "Night to Unite" event as it helps to raise awareness about local law enforcement agencies, and it helps to get citizens together for the purpose of becoming more knowledgeable about the community, through the variety of activities that are staged.

New to the event this year will be the police department's rollover simulator, with demonstrations held every half hour, showing the effect of a roll-over type vehicle crash; the m.i.l.k. digital ID program, sponsored by Farmers Insurance Group and a component of the Home Organizer software program that stores vital data such as a current photograph of a child, their vital statistics and fingerprints on the computer, which can be printed out or e-mailed directly to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children should the need ever arise; and Burlington Northern Santa Railroad officials, who will be providing a demonstration featuring a vehicle involved in a train accident, along with a video presentation.

Organizers are also hoping to have some Fargo Force players in attendance who will participate in a 'meet and greet' and sign autographs; members of the West Fargo Exchange Club will be at the north and south entrances distributing maps to help those attending better find their way around; and members of Boy Scout Troop 232 of VFW Post 7564 will also be sponsoring the Climbing Wall again, available to adults and for children who have parental consent to participate, and must be wearing tennis shoes.

Other special activities will include: police and fire displays and demonstrations by the respective departments; bike licenses sold for $1 (bring bike); helicopter tours, a flag raising ceremony presented by the West Fargo Amvets Post 8, West Fargo VFW Color Guard, and the 119th Civil Air Patrol/Happy Hooligans Cadet Squadron; the West Fargo VFW Post and Ladies Auxiliary serving free ice cream floats, donated by Cass Clay Creamery and Coca-Cola, cotton candy; clowns from the Entertainment Company sponsored by the Silver Dollar Bar, Harley Davidson motorcycle rides sponsored by the Fargo Harley Owners Group, Tae Kwon Do demonstrations, MeritCare LifeFlight helicopter, North Dakota Army National Guard drug intelligence helicopter, military Humvees from the North Dakota Army National Guard, Red River Zoo, West Fargo Parks dog obedience - demonstrations by Doug Spieker, Red River Show Team - miniature aircraft show located at the Babe Ruth Baseball Diamond, caricatures sponsored by Xcel Energy, free face painting by the West Fargo Cheer Team and sponsored by Michaels Arts & Crafts, performances by the West Fargo Varsity and Junior Varsity Packatahnas and Halftime by Sheri, and much, much more.

The Minnesota Crime Prevention Association is the major sponsor of "Night to Unite," joined by several other local businesses: Alerus Financial, Brokerage Printing, Cargill, Cash Wise Foods, Cass Clay Creamery, Cass County Electric Cooperative, Cheney Motor Sports, Choice Financial Bank, City of West Fargo, Coca-Cola Bottling Company, Country Hearth, Farmers Insurance, Food Services of America, First International Bank & Trust, Gate City Bank, Hornbacher's, Michaels Arts & Crafts, Monsanto, Moore Engineering, Inc., Nash Finch, National Association of Town Watch, Sheyenne Liquor Mart, Silver Dollar Bar & Choppers Grill, SunMart Foods, Valley Sporting Goods, Western State Bank, West Fargo VFW Post 7564, West Fargo Pioneer, West Fargo Police Association, West Fargo Police Department, West Fargo AMVETS Post 8, West Fargo Parks District, West Fargo Fire Department, West Fargo Exchange Club, West Fargo VFW Color Guard, West Fargo VFW Ladies Auxiliary, the West Fargo Visitor's Committee, and Xcel Energy.

Elmwood Park is located at 500 13th Ave. W. For additional information contact the West Fargo Police Department at 701-433-5500 or visit the Web site at