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About 150 community members turned out for St. Helena’s first National Night Out at Lyman Park on Tuesday evening for free pizza, spaghetti, hot dogs and popcorn, and a chance to meet with local law enforcement in a fun and relaxed atmosphere.

National Nights Out events are designed to encourage positive interactions between local law enforcement and the community in a friendly environment. It’s an opportunity to ask questions and build community relationships.

This is the 35th year for the nationwide event that takes place in all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August.

At Lyman Park, St. Helena police officers mingled with residents as did AMR Medical Respondents Marea Otter and Bryan Rose. They answered questions about equipment in the emergency rescue van, and driving through traffic in an emergency situation. It can be trying, said paramedic Rose, as not all drivers are aware of how to respond.

“Some people don’t pull over, and others pull over the wrong way,” he said.

For St. Helena’s first event, Lt. Chris Hartley said, “It went fabulous” and the police department was pleased with the turnout. He added that next year they will do a better job of advertising and getting word out about the event.

Anai Ortiz, the resource coordinator at Stonebridge Apartments, was garnering donations and support at the event for a new playground that will be built in one day, with 200 volunteers from EAH, Stonebridge and Kaiser Permanente on Saturday, Aug. 25.

The fun thing is that the children designed and picked out the playground equipment themselves. Cost of the whole project is about $250,000, Ortiz said, with grants from KaBOOM!, a nonprofit organization that helps communities build playgrounds for children, and funds from Kaiser Permanente. Stonebridge was to raise $8,500 as part of the deal, but that stipulation got waived because of the wildfires.

A big hit at the event was Napa Valley Mobile Petting Zoo, which was arranged by police volunteer Perry Butler of Juslyn Vineyards. Kids young and old got to pet 13 different species of animals including a miniature horse, a chinchilla, two playful ferrets, and a black fawn runner goose.

The fire department also brought a firetruck for kids big and small to explore.

Other family fun included lawn games, arts and crafts organized by Nimbus Arts, a bounce house, a raffle, and the family-friendly movie “The Incredibles 2.”

Local businesses that participated or donated to the raffle included A&W, ChoKoLatte, Gott’s, Fideaux, Pavati, Flora Springs Winery, Cameo Cinema, and Gary Bogle on behalf of the St. Helena Kiwanis Club.

You can reach Cynthia Sweeney at csweeney@weeklycalistogan.com or 942-4035.

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The Weekly Calistogan Editor