Nearly 45 neighborhood Night to Unite celebrations took place Tuesday evening across Northfield.

The events brought together neighbors in a unique environment to share meals and conversation. Children’s games were available at certain locations.

Night to Unite is a statewide event held on the first Tuesday of August, in which neighborhoods within communities get together for potlucks, activities and conversations, often joined by law enforcement and emergency personnel.

On Southbridge Drive, two townhomes hosted one neighborhood gathering.

To host Karen Montgomery, who moved into the neighborhood in recent years, the chance to participate helped her develop a deeper connection with her neighbors.

“You’ve got to know each other on a personal level,” she said. “Not just coming and going, and seeing cars going.”

“The connection with people,” Montgomery said of her favorite part of the event.

At St. John’s Lutheran Church, a bouncy house, food and fellowship were on the menu. The church expected to serve 150 to 175 people in what was their eighth year hosting Night to Unite activities.

The event is not the only way the church reaches out. St. John’s hosts Wednesday meals from mid-September until the second week of May every year.

To Kristy Harms, a St. John’s Lutheran Church member who was serving food, the event was “a wonderful opportunity to spend time with the neighbors.”

“This is just a nice opportunity for us to just interact and eat and celebrate and have fun together,” she said. “That’s really what our ministry is about, just feeding and taking care of each other.”

Previous to 2011, Night to Unite in Northfield was at a singular location, complete with bands and festivities, but former Deputy Police Chief Chuck Walerius led an effort to gear the event toward its intended mission: building relationships among community members and law enforcement. The size of the event has since grown exponentially.

Reach Associate Editor Sam Wilmes at 507-645-1115.

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