Of the Baker City Herald

Fall-like temperatures and cloudy skies didn't deter hundreds of adults and kids from taking part in the fourth annual National Night Out on Tuesday.

The evening of andquot;drug and crime-free family fun,andquot; organized by the Baker County Prevention and Education Center, began in Geiser Pollman Park with free hamburgers and hot dogs, cooked by the Baker City Lions Club. Salt Lick #39 and friends provided the music both before and between the games.

Kids flocked to the park gazebo to compete for prizes in the four organized events. First came the water balloon toss. A child teamed up with an adult, then tried to throw and catch the balloon. If successful, the team took one step away from each other and repeated the process. If the balloon broke, the team was out. Jessica and Alicia Shorts were the winning team.

Perhaps in an attempt to warm up the shivering crowd, the second activity was a dance contest. Both kids and adults gathered together and started moving to the rhythm of the music. Local law enforcement officers wandered through the crowd and tapped people out if they lost the beat or their enthusiasm. The dance team of Logan Carr and Karen Higley were declared the winners.

The next competition ended in sticky finger and faces the watermelon eating contest. With the direction of andquot;no pink leftandquot; from Lori McNeil, county coordinator, the kids tore into the plastic-wrapped wedges of fruit and ate them down to the rind.

Pam Hug was the fastest eater in the first round and Matt Gustafson won in the second.

The final activity sack races ended in more teams falling on the ground than running past the finish line. So many people wanted to participate that the crowd had to be divided into three heats. The winning team from the first round were so fast that they only left their first names, Matt and Corey, before taking off again. The second heat winners were Earl Hellman and Forest Warren and third round winners were Matt Hensley and Nathan Defrees.

The Lions cooked and gave away 400 hamburgers and hotdogs. Prizes, both for drawings and games, included t-shirts, water bottles, frisbees, hats and soccer balls.

Along with the games, community organizations lined the sidewalk and offered a variety of information and services, ranging from child fingerprinting to the sizes of bicycle helmets.

andquot;It was a great turnout. Everyone in the community came together to show their support for a drug and crime-free community,andquot; Tammy Bloomer, event coordinator, said.