Manchester hosts annual 'Night Out' event

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MANCHESTER — The Manchester Police Department welcomed community members to Dana L. Thompson Memorial Park's Applejack Field on Tuesday night for an array of free, family-friendly activities intended to strengthen ties between local public safety agencies and residents.

Undaunted by intermittent rain, scores of children played jumbo Jenga, cornhole, frisbee and other lawn games, while attendees of all ages queued for hamburgers and cotton candy.

The gathering was one of many National Night Out events held the same day in cities across the country. Eight localities in Vermont participated this year, according to the website of the National Association of Town Watch, the Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that launched the program in 1984.

Members of the U.S. Forest Service, Winhall Police Department, Northshire Rescue Squad, Manchester Fire Department, and Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department joined the Manchester Police Department and residents in the festivities. Bennington Police Department K-9 Officer Rob Murawski and his police dog, Gracie also attended.

"This is a good cause," said Kathleen Yanez, a town of Manchester finance assistant who volunteered at the event. "I'm glad to help out."

Local organizations Fed Up Vermont, Heritage Family Credit Union and Project Against Violent Encounters staffed booths at the event.

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Cpl. Chris Mason, who coordinated Manchester's Night Out in 2018 — the first year the town participated — and again this year, said it allows officers to "[let] our hair down a little bit" in public, making them more approachable.

This year's event in Manchester was not substantially different from its previous

iteration, Mason said, though the number of food options increased.

Mason did a "fantastic job" of organizing the evening of activities, said Chief Patrick Owens, who gamely served a shift in the dunk tank at the event.

For the second year in row, inclement weather prevented a planned helicopter landing, but the spectacle's absence once again didn't seem to be missed.

Last year's event received "nothing but positive reviews," said Mason, who expects turnout to rise in successive years.


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