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National Night Out strives for safer community

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Khylee Jones, 15, was one of the winners of the Ripon National Night Out watermelon-eating contest in Ripon.


POSTED August 6, 2014 1:18 a.m.

National Night Out is usually about neighborhood watch groups coming together.

 But in Ripon, the event introduced in 1984 as “America’s Night out against Crime” is about the community.

“We have many (groups) coming together to make this happen,” said Matt Householder of the Ripon Grace Church.

He and Bret Lamasma of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church are part of the Ripon Ministerial Association. For the past four years, they’ve relied on the generosity of folks in the community and area businesses to make possible the NNO event at the Community Center.

The idea is that if people get to know their neighbors and other members of the community better they will look out more for each other and call the police when something looks amiss in their neighborhood.

The City of Ripon Police Department and the Ripon Consolidated Fire District were there, showcasing the latest equipment and vehicles.

The two public service agencies renewed an old rivalry in the watermelon-eating contest.

“For us, this was absolutely a big thrill to win it,” said reserve firefighter Scott Scheffel, who, along with Ryan Mackey, defeated Sgt. Stephen Meece and Officer Brett Delgado.

Contestants had two minutes to devour as much of the red fruit on the rind, according to DJ Randy of All in Detail.

“Closest to the rind won it,” he added.

The 50 Watermelon Yosemite Fresh was donated by Van Groningen & Sons.

The number of hotdogs served was used to tally the estimated number in attendance. The Ripon Ministerial Association figured about 1,500.

“I think the (cool) weather helped boost the turnout,” Lamasma said. “I know we have more here today than last year.”

Back to the watermelon-eating contest, Richard McGee beat out two competitors in the age 20-30 division. “I know it was a real close battle,” he said, hoisting his first-place trophy.

Ripon High freshman Khylee Jones, who was a runner-up in last year’s event, took first place in the age 11-19 group. “I’ve trained for this all year,” she proudly said.

NNO, in addition, included free face-painting for the kids as well as free popcorn, cotton candy, snow cones, and several prizes up for grabs such as a new Kindle reader, bicycle, and Oakland Raiders and Oakland A’s tickets.

At least 60 donated prizes were used for Bingo while local firefighters brought in the dunk tank, said Householder of the Ripon Ministerial Association.

The big prize was by Color the Skies. Organizers of the hot air balloon festival held annually in Ripon donated a free ride in a hot air balloon during the Labor Day weekend event.

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