A time to honor Teller County’s law enforcement and first responders, National Night Out was like the old-fashioned community gathering.
Celebrated in Cripple Creek and Woodland Park on Aug. 6, the evening featured people enjoying hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on the grill along with chit chat with the people who protect them, keep them safe and respond in emergencies.
“This is a great event,” said Cripple Creek Fire Chief Dean O’Nale, who said he was less stressed than in other years. “The rains have been good to us, which is a nice thing.”
Police Chief Mike Rulo was in a good mood as well. “We always get a good turnout, up to 200 people for this event,” he said.
In Woodland Park, people mingled, many sitting on the green between the library and Ute Pass Cultural Center.
Like O’Nale, firefighters with Northeast Teller County Fire Protection District praised the weather. “It’s wetter and wetter,” said Jonas Johnsen.
Yet despite the good feelings, there was no getting around the fact that being a cop or a first responder is a dangerous occupation.
“We’re having trouble getting applications because of what is going on around the country,” said Teller County Sgt. Jake Markus.
Nonetheless, National Night Out offered a sense of relief. “We do have a lot of community support,” Markus said.
Perhaps highlighting the current atmosphere for cops, Jake Skifstad was accepting donations for more bulletproof vest packages, the Shield 616, which he developed and has helped to equip law enforcement officers in Teller County.
Last month, Doloretta and Bob Barber initiated a campaign that raised more than $17,000 to fund 10 vests for deputies and four Cripple Creek police officers.
As well, the events featured booths and tables for various organizations and businesses. But more than anything, the evening was a social occasion as well as an opportunity to say thank you.
The Wildwood Casino provided the food for the Cripple Creek event and Elijah Murphy’s The Historic Ute Inn provided the food in Woodland Park. Each event featured booths by various businesses and organizations.