The annual Night to Unite in Owatonna brought together neighbors for food, fun and a visit from Owatonna police and fire department personnel. 

The threat of rain disappeared as Tuesday progressed, leaving a sunny, warm evening for the yearly crime awareness and prevention night. The Owatonna Police Department said in a press release, "Everything we do to strengthen the ties among neighbors of all ages, backgrounds and lifestyles makes our present and future that much brighter."

Officers stopped at many block parties to answer questions, display their squad cars and give residents some insight into their responsibilities. The Night to Unite is promoted by the Minnesota Crime Prevention Association to heighten crime and drug prevention awareness, generate support for local anti-crime efforts and strengthen neighborhood spirit.

The Owatonna Police Department also collected school supplies from the parties to benefit less fortunate families in Steele County.

Block parties vary in size and approach. Some are just a few families while others bring together entire blocks or neighborhoods. Food may be a potluck or just desserts or root beer floats. Some parties have games and activities, while others just assemble some chairs in a circle and visit. The event is a good chance to get to know new people in the area and address any neighborhood issues as well.

In some cases the same people organize their block party every year. Others will rotate that chore. The police department offers a detailed planning guide for anyone who would like to put together a party next year.

An Owatonna officer shows off his squad car and answers questions from a group at a block party hosted by Tiger Fox and Brad Bettermann in the picture below.

Roy Koenig, Townsquare Media