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Smiles tell the story of National Night Out

It was the kind of night that would have made Dan Leach smile.

There were families, a softball game and a strong law enforcement presence. It was a fitting tribute to the late police officer, whose life was devoted to his job, his family and coaching sports for Boulder City’s recreation department.

This year’s National Night Out festivities at Veterans’ Memorial Park included the dedication of Field No. 1 to Leach, who was killed in a 2009 accident while driving a police van to pick up inmates at the Laughlin jail and take them to the Clark County Detention Center.

His widow, Laura, surrounded by family members, thanked the community for its love and support, allowing them to continue her husband’s joy in helping children and making their lives better.

She also said it was fitting to dedicate the ball field to her late husband, who was at the original dedication of the Little League field 12 years ago.

Throughout the evening, donations were accepted for the Dan Leach Memorial Fund, which provides the opportunity for children to participate in activities they can otherwise not afford.

Mayor Roger Tobler praised the foundation for its efforts to “bless the lives of children to play sports.”

Good sportsmanship and camaraderie seemed to be the theme for the evening’s festivities. And that’s what National Night Out is designed to do. Started in 1984, National Night Out was created to thwart crime and increase the partnership between neighbors and the police.

That first year, 2.5 million Americans took part in events in 400 communities in 23 states.

Now, 30 year later, more than 37.8 million people in 16,124 communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories, Canadian cities and military bases worldwide participate.

In Boulder City, the strength of that partnership was evident Tuesday night as hundreds of residents came out to the park to meet law enforcement personnel from various agencies, inspect their vehicles, become friends with the officers and their K-9 or equine companions and just have fun.

There were free hamburgers and hot dogs, thanks to Albertsons, inflatable slides, temporary tattoos and a rock climbing wall.

Opportunities for law enforcement officers and community residents to interact were plentiful, as were the smiles and laughter of everyone around.

One of the highlights of the evening was the softball game between the police and fire departments. Last year, the fire department lost to the police department and this year they came to win. And they did. The final score was 33-7.

But it was all in the name of good fun. You could tell that by dunk tank that sat on the ball field’s sideline. As if the players needed extra incentive to not strike out, any player that did was forced to take a walk of shame to the dunk tank, where he was swiftly deployed to the cold water. Firefighter Walt West was the first to make the trip. He didn’t seem to mind. He rose from the water with a smile on his face.

That smile said it all. National Night Out was a success. The firefighters were happy with their victory. The police were happy with the new partnerships they forged. The residents were happy with a chance to enjoy another event that makes their community so special. And the Leach family was happy that the work of their beloved Dan will be forever remembered.

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