Zimmerman unites, looks at the future of its parks

by Heather Reinhart
Contributing Writer
Zimmerman neighbors joined together Tuesday night to celebrate Night to Unite at Lions Park.

Photos by Heather Reinhart
Those attending the Night to Unite event at Zimmerman’s Lions Park on Tuesday night were encouraged to fill out a City Parks and Trails Survey to help the Park Board with its future plans.

The event drew a steady crowd of about 100 people and featured emergency vehicles from the local fire department, sheriff’s department, its mounted patrol and North Ambulance. The dunk tank was a favorite activity for the kids, as well as a scavenger hunt that had families walking all over the park to discover the answers and win prizes that included fidget spinners and glow sticks.

“I think it went really well,” Park Board Chair Barry Wendorf said. “We had a lot of donations that helped draw people in.”

Free water, chips and ice pops were available throughout the event, along with plenty of goodies for the kids, including pencils, spinning tops, plastic firefighter hats, bandages and coloring pages. There was even an adult-only drawing for a Stihl leaf blower.

Jodi Gavin and John Griner, members of the Mounted Patrol at the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office, attended Tuesday’s event to talk to guests about their roles.

The nationwide Night to Unite event focuses on getting to know your neighbors, building relationships with community leaders and public safety agencies and bringing awareness to crime prevention.

The Zimmerman Park Board also encouraged guests to fill out a short survey asking what they like in the existing city parks and what they would like to see added. Wendorf said that survey is what brought about the Night to Unite event to begin with as it gave the city the opportunity to learn more about the community’s desires so that it can generate funding and budget for park improvements to meet those needs.

Tuesday’s evening event included several community leaders who greeted attendees at the park. It was used to teach visitors about some of the city’s offerings, including the city’s 18-hole disc golf course, park building rentals and the Zimmerman Girl Scout program. Guests were encouraged to bring nonperishable food items for the Passing the Bread Food Distribution, and Keller Williams Realty hosted a movie in the park featuring “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul” to wrap up the evening.

Wendorf said that the park board has already started talking about what they’ll do next year.

“We’ll do it annually now,” he said. “I think a highlight was the number of people that attended and how we were able to get some great donations for a community event like this.”