Sea-Faring Firefighters, Police Face Off In A Good Cause


The annual National Night Out event will kick off at noon, Saturday, Aug. 4 at Green Valley Park.

The annual National Night Out event will kick off at noon, Saturday, Aug. 4 at Green Valley Park. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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No oars. No waterproof material. No nautical touches.

Firefighters and police are busy creating makeshift rafts for a heated race in a good cause at the Aug. 4 National Night Out kickoff event.

The Payson Fire Department will take on the Payson Police Department in a head-to-head rowing race across Green Valley Lake.

The catch — contestants must build their own boats without using anything traditionally found on a water vessel, said Kim Becker, executive assistant at the PPD who is organizing the event.

Crafting a seaworthy vessel will be tough, but neither outfit would let us preview their creation for fear their skulking rivals will steal a winning idea.

“They can’t use anything that would be used for a boat,” Becker said.

In years past, the departments raced on foot and tricycles. This year, Officer Josh Cadwell suggested they hit the waterways for the always-popular relay race, but threw in the challenge of creating the rafts without using nautical supplies, Becker said.

The race is part the 29th Annual National Night Out, which kicks off at noon Saturday, Aug. 4, at Green Valley Park. The event runs until 8 p.m.

In all, 44 vendors will attend. Some will sell food and merchandise while dozens of community organizations will provide free information on public safety and community services. Agencies planning to attend include the Gila Family Advocacy Center, Community Bridges, Meth Coalition, Sheriff’s Office, U.S. Forest Service, Red Cross and Gila County Mounted Posse.

Organizers plan free games and prizes for the whole family.

Junction 87, the Hot Cappuccinos, Landon Shill and Team EXYO will provide live entertainment throughout the day.

The police vs. firefighters raft race starts at 3:30 p.m.

Each raft will have four officers onboard and if anyone falls in, the team is disqualified, Becker said.

This is the fifth year Payson has participated in NNO, an event that encourages people to get out and meet their neighbors to help deter crime.

The event has a two-fold purpose.

The Aug. 4 day in the park provides a fun way to get the community together. Then on Tuesday, Aug. 7, residents are encouraged to go outside, turn on their outside lights, lock their door and meet their neighbors.

Some neighborhoods hold block parties so neighbors can get to know each other. When you know your neighbors, you not only recognize when a stranger is casing the area and to report suspicious activity, said Police Chief Don Engler.

Becker said more neighborhoods hold get-togethers every year of NNO.

Sadly, this may be the last year Payson participates in the event, despite winning an award every year from national organizers.

This year, part of a $6,800 Edward J. Bryne grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance is funding the kickoff event. Without the grant, Becker said it is unlikely the department could raise the needed funds.

With the grant money, Payson police bought a sound system, canopies, toys, hats and various other giveaways.

Any money raised during the event will go to charity, Becker said.

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