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Ripon celebrates National Night Out
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Marty Cornilsen, who is the Training Battalion Chief for the Ripon Consolidated Fire District, claims victory at the watermelon-eating contest at Tuesdays National Night Out in Ripon. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT

RIPON – Ed Ormonde was nudged out as the unofficial watermelon champ at Tuesday’s National Night Out.

The Ripon Police Chief claimed victory a year ago but his repeat chances fell short to Marty Cornilsen, who is the Training Battalion Chief for the Ripon Consolidated Fire District.

 No matter. “It’s all in good fun,” he said.

Ormonde, Cornilsen, Officer Stephen Meece, and fire volunteer Scott Scheffel didn’t mind getting caught in the messy situation caused by the juicy watermelons donated by Van Groningen and Sons, Inc.

“We made spectacles of ourselves for everyone’s enjoyment, but (the watermelon-eating contest) is one of the highlights of National Night Out,” Ormonde said.

So was the free food.

Besides watermelons from the Van Groningen and Sons, those attending the event at the Community Center stood in line for the free hotdog, bottled water, popcorn, cotton candy, balloons, and face painting, to name a few.

As far as attendance, Ormonde estimated the numbers to be similar to that of last year.

“Our guess was about 1,200 based on the 1,500 hot dogs we gave away,” he said.

For the second straight year, the Ripon Ministerial Association spearheaded National Night Out.

A year ago, the group made up of various religious faith in the community decided to revive NNO in Ripon.

“We didn’t have it for a couple of years due to lack of funding (from the city),” said Dusty Hoekstra, outreach pastor at Almond Valley Christian Reformed Church.

That’s when the Ripon Ministerial Association stepped in. “We asked the city what we can do to help the community,” Hoekstra said.

His group was helped out by police and the fire district. Local businesses and community folks also chipped in. “We were able to form some natural partnerships,” Pastor Matt Householder of Ripon Grace Church said.

Ripon Ministerial Association also made possible Love Ripon, a twice-a-year endeavor consisting of churches, service organizations and all willing bodies donating their time and spruce up the town. The next Love Ripon event is scheduled for Sept. 29.