WAYZATA — Neighbors from across the Lake Minnetonka area gathered on streets and yards for Night to Unite, an annual event to foster community ties between citizens and public safety organizations, on Tuesday, Aug. 6.

Laura Ricker hosted a block party in her neighborhood in Wayzata. Her street had hosted Night to Unite parties before but not in several years.

“I think it’s really important to be involved in our community and let our children know that we’re involved in our community,” Ricker told Lakeshore Weekly News.

The fire department, police and Wayzata staff attended Ricker’s event, speaking to neighbors about what’s going on in the city and providing updates about the local construction.

“Overall, it is a night of community building that highlights the best part of being in such a wonderful small town — relationships between neighbors, and good food, of course,” Wayzata City Manager Jeffrey Dahl, who attended the event, said.

Minnetonka resident Maureen Burke has hosted a Night to Unite event for the past 10 years — bringing in the most pounds of food for ICA Food Shelf for three years in a row.

“We’re not really a small community, we’re really stretched out,” Burke said. “This is one time where you can meet people, it just makes community for us, that’s the important part.”

Burke knows almost everyone who walks into her event, waving at her guests and jumping between conversations, reminding everyone to try her homemade ice cream.

Minnetonka Mayor Brad Wiersum and Minnetonka Police Chief Scott Boerboom attended Burke’s party as they made their rounds to the several parties throughout the city of Minnetonka.

“Night to unite is an opportunity for myself and my officers to get out and meet residents,” Boerboom told Lakeshore Weekly News. “For police to be effective in a community they need to get to know their community and that night was a great opportunity to do that. It makes us more effective at our jobs. It also gives neighbors a reason to get together. We show up but also gives neighbors the opportunity to be neighbors.”

Boerboom told the paper, that 161 parties were registered with the city of Minnetonka and the fire department, police department and public works department visited most if not all of those parties. Boerboom personally visited four.

The ICA Food Shelf said in a Facebook post on Aug. 9, it collected 5,490 pounds of food and $3,368 so far from residents of Minnetonka and Hopkins who hosted parties.

Frances Stevenson is a reporter for the Lakeshore Weekly News, covering the communities around Lake Minnetonka.

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