SKOWHEGAN — Grown men and women, boys and girls, all walking around in superhero capes.

A German shepherd police dog named Bella demonstrating an attack on a detective with the district attorney’s office. Children enjoying corn hole toss and a real American Ninja Warrior. Those were all part of the fun Tuesday night during Skowhegan’s first ever National Night Out celebration.

Events involving 10 law enforcement agencies were held in Skowhegan’s sprawling Coburn Park as part of the annual nationwide community-building campaign that promotes police and community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said.

“We spread it out. All of the agencies that are being represented here are being spread out thought Coburn Park,” Bucknam said. “We spaced them out so that the kids and the parents can get out and get some fresh air and get some exercise in and stop and relax and see what’s going at each station with the different law enforcement agencies.”

Game wardens set up an Operation Game Thief trailer. The Maine Forest Service had a mock woods fire display using real firefighting water backpacks to put out pretend flames.

The U.S. Border Patrol had a van and an activity display, while Pittsfield and Fairfield police set up their own events, down over the hill next to the ledges of the Kennebec River. The Maine Army National Guard set up a recruiting station, and Somerset County Sheriff’s Office had a display.


Other cities and towns in Maine also are participating in Night Out festivities aimed at “enhancing the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community,” according to promotional material.

In Waterville, the South End Neighborhood Association, in collaboration with the Kennebec Valley Community Action Program’s South End Teen Center, hosted the annual South End Neighborhood Festival & National Night Out at Green Street Park.

The Skowhegan Police Department also joined up with Jonathan Alexis, who was a participant in the TV series “American Ninja Warrior” and who brought his kids’ American Ninja Warrior obstacle course, on which boys and girls of all ages participated.

George White, 15, a 10th-grade football player from Skowhegan, did one of the stations of the obstacle course and found it harder than he thought it was going to be. The challenge was moving along a row of softballs hanging on chains without touching the ground, one of five stations in Alexis’ event.

“It was difficult,” he said after completing it. “When I first tried it, I thought the momentum was going to keep me going, but it stopped once you got to the next one. I had to rely on my upper body strength and the momentum that took me — I made it to the last one, and that’s where I messed up. I got tired.”

Alexis, 52, along with his son Jonathan Alexis Jr., 29, both from the Waterville area, appeared on the TV show in 2015 and 2016.


Bucknam said the Night Out is a community policing activity, now in its 35th year nationwide, providing an opportunity to bring police and residents together under positive circumstances. Events are sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

Bucknam said the events are meant to teach children that they can approach a police officer at any time. He said this is the first time in the event’s 35 years that it’s being hosted in Skowhegan.

An estimated 38 million people in more than 16,000 communities across America take part in the event in all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August.

Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel and exhibits.

There was a birdhouse-making display Tuesday night by Hammond Lumber and a couple of booths and food offered by Somerset Public Health, based in Skowhegan.

Matt L’Italien, director of Somerset Public Health, a department of Redington-Fairview General Hospital, said their presence Tuesday night was part of the Drug Free Communities program.


“We’ve been working pretty closely with chief Bucknam and the Skowhegan Police Department to help put this on,” he said. “We have been doing a lot of activities in the community to provide alternatives to substance abuse for young people.”

As for the superhero capes, Kristie LeBlanc, the assistant director at Somerset Public Health wearing her own red cape, said it was all fitting on the National Night out.

“The capes show we are superheroes,” she said. “We all have our own cape saying ‘Above the Influence.’ That’s the logo. It’s the drug-free community logo, created by community health educator Danielle Denis.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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