Gov. Mark Dayton posed for pictures and tried his best to shoot hoops with north Minneapolis residents Tuesday in celebration of National Night Out.
More than 1,500 similar neighborhood gatherings took place all across the city for the annual event encouraging community camaraderie.
Dayton was invited to the Folwell neighborhood bash at 3419 Knox Av. N., along with city officials including Mayor Betsy Hodges.
Dayton said it was important to show a side of north Minneapolis that is not always seen.
“Usually when north Minneapolis gets publicized, it’s for something bad happening,” he said.
In the Folwell neighborhood, children got their faces painted and played Double Dutch jump rope while their parents discussed community issues with one another and city officials.
The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board hosted pop-up parks throughout the city, including on Knox Avenue for the night. Under tents, neighbors played board games while music played on speakers nearby.
Neighborhood resident Marc Cameron invited Dayton and city dignitaries to stop by and see the real north Minneapolis.
The block leader said that by bringing the officials to Folwell, he hopes to break down the stereotypes north Minneapolis often deals with.
Cameron put up fliers and knocked on doors to get his neighbors to spread the word about his block’s National Night Out event.
“I wanted to help the elected officials see what really goes on here,” he said. “It’s something I grew up with: taking pride in the neighborhood.”
National Night Out is a time for the community to get out and get to know neighbors as well as local police and officials.
State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion also attended the Folwell gathering, where more than 50 people came out for the night. He said it was a great way for him to touch base with people in his district.
For Hodges and City Council President Barb Johnson, who represents Ward Four, Folwell was one of many stops they were making around the city to show their support for the event.
Hodges said National Night Out is an extraordinary way for citizens to come together and get to know one another.
Nancy Holt, 59, has lived in north Minneapolis for more than 20 years. She said north Minneapolis needed to have an event to get the community together.
“We need all the positivity we can get,” she said.
Down the street from Knox Avenue, neighbors got together for their annual National Night Out potluck gathering next to the Northside Greenway.
Alejandra Brown, 45, said the event fosters community unity and discussion about improving the neighborhood. “We just don’t get to see our neighbors during the year,” she said.
Her husband, David, said the event is also a way to help stop crime from happening by encouraging neighbors to communicate with one another.
“If we see something suspicious,” he said, “we point it out.”
Paula Kloeppener, 47, moved to the Folwell neighborhood in May. She said she was glad to see the event happening in her new neighborhood.
“The community needs to come together and have a sense of family,” she said.
Cameron said he hopes to make more people see the togetherness that exists in the north Minneapolis community beyond National Night Out. Then maybe, he said, people will change their opinions of an area too often just associated with crime.