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There were dozens of Wheat Ridge police officers gathered in Hayward Park on the evening of Aug. 1, and it wasn't because of any crime being committed or dangerous situation unfolding.
They were there to party.
The officers were joined by several hundred Wheat Ridge residents and staff from 4-8 p.m. to mark National Night Out, an event held all over the country to better partnerships between police and their residents.
"Communities all over Jeffco are throwing parties tonight," said John Bowman, an officer with the Wheat Ridge Police, who was in charge of the evening's festivities. "It's a great event for us because it's designed to bring the community together to foster a stronger relationship with us."
This year's event featured booths from organizations like Foothills Animal Shelter, balloon animals, face-painting and caricatures from Artsy Events, free pizza from Infinitus Pie, and music, dancing and games from Connect4 Events and Entertainment.
"We travel all over the state to add dancing, singing and more to events," said Princess Wallace, owner of Connect4."Bringing together all kinds of different entertainment is my favorite part of participating in events like these."
During the event, Wallace and her group of professional dancers led children and adults through Hula-Hoop contests, rounds of limbo, jump rope and other games, all while blasting pop favorites like Pharrell Williams' "Happy" and Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling!"
Police offers were on hand to give visitors tours of their department, and also had some of their vehicles, including a motorcycle and SWAT van, out for inspection.
Plenty of people were out with their dogs, and were able to learn about the city's Dog Walker Watch class, which teaches pet owners how to report suspicious behavior and activity in their neighborhood and receive an honorary WRPD K-9 certificate and scarf for their dog.
"National Night Out strives to heighten awareness and strengthen participation in local anti- crime efforts in communities such as Wheat Ridge," said Chief Dan Brennan. "This program promotes neighborhood spirit and community-policing efforts that prevent crime which plays an important role in keeping our residents and businesses safe."
Some of the attendees, like Steve Martinez and his grandson, stopped by on an unplanned visit, others like Pattie and Tom Walden, make a point of attending National Night Out events annually with their granddaughter, Anabelle.
"We live close by, and we like to come every year because our granddaughter loves it," Pattie said.
"My favorite is the face painting," Anabelle said with a big smile.
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