Sioux Center entities to bring back event

Sioux Center police officer Caleb Bilby walks around with an interpreter to help introduce himself as he hands out ice cream bars at Central Park on Sunday.

SIOUX CENTER—Ice cream bars ran out twice at Sioux Center’s first “Ice cream with Heroes” or Sioux Center’s version of National Night Out held Sunday, Aug. 4.

The event was co-hosted by three community entities: The Sioux Center Police Department, PIECE (Partners in Education, Community outreach and Embracing Diversity) and CASA (The Center for Assistance, Service and Advocacy).

“We’re extremely pleased with the outcome,” said Sioux Center police officer Ulf Schaefer. “We weren’t sure what to expect, but with such a good turnout, we hope to make this an annual event.”

Sioux Center National Night Out

Sioux Center volunteer fire fighter Augie Martinez talks with siblings Ethan, Dominic and Bethany Sufle of Boyden about the bell on the fire truck and other “cool things” the kids spotted.

The first-time event had high turnout despite Christ the King Catholic Church hosting a soccer tournament that same evening.

With Sioux Center joining the list this year, that brings Iowa’s total to 44 communities celebrating National Night Out. Sioux Center’s event, however, was moved to a Sunday.

Though many National Night Out events are block parties within specific neighborhoods, the three entities wanted Sioux Center’s version to be centrally located so Sioux Center’s event was at Central Park.

Besides free cream and bouncy houses, visitors of all ages to the park had the opportunity to look inside an ambulance, fire truck or police vehicle and chat with the persons involved in those emergency services in the community.

Sioux Center National Night Out

Emergency medical technician Lindsay Mulder, Sioux Center Ambulance volunteer, talks with families about some equipment that’s used emergency situations.

“It was great to see so many people come together,” said PIECE founder Martha Draayer, who is also a member of CASA, both entities of which provided a total of 20 volunteers to help with the evening’s fun.

Most of the volunteers were also bilingual to act as interpreters for anyone visiting the park and wanting to communicate.

“It really felt like people were connecting, they weren’t just there for the bouncy house or ice cream,” Draayer said. “Those were fun things, but I saw and heard people, kids and adults, asking questions, especially of our emergency personnel, and that’s what the night was all about — making connections. We were really blessed to have the law enforcement and emergency personnel involved. I think this event was a huge success.”

Sioux Center National Night Out

Youth enjoyed the free inflatables that were part of "Ice Cream with Heroes" or Sioux Center's version of National Night out at Central Park on Sunday, Aug. 4.

PIECE donated the ice cream bars. About 250 were purchased at first. With boxes running out about 45 minutes into the two-hour event and people still coming to the park, another 100 were purchased and those were quickly given away as well.

National Night Out is not a new idea; nationally it began in August 1984. Each year the official event is held on the first Tuesday in August in communities in every state.