STANWOOD — An American flag hung from the extended ladder of a fire truck and Elvis Presley’s “Little Sister” thumping from speakers greeted visitors on a warm summer night Tuesday for National Night Out in Stanwood.
Children scrambled through and over police cars, fire trucks and tractors.
Sisters Kenya, Jennifer and Arely Ibarra had their arms full of balloons, beach balls and other goodies. Arely, 7, had two deputy sticker badges on her shirt.
Jennifer, 9, wore a sash fashioned out of yellow police tape.
The family was passing by when they saw the big flag and decided to stop, said the girls’ mother, Luisa Perez.
“It’s really nice to see all the people who help keep the community safe,” she said.
At the state parks booth, kids sifted through the boxes of beads, looking for just the right baubles for their necklaces. Park ranger Tom Riggs helped measure out the string to fit over their heads. Each necklace was adorned with a piece of wood stamped with a design, including peace symbols.
The majority of visitors to nearby Cama Beach State Park on Camano Island are families with small children, said park ranger Jeff Wheeler. The rangers have gotten pretty adept at coming up with crafts.
Stanwood Police Chief Rick Hawkins kept an eye on things.
“It’s a great turnout, a great night,” he said.
Isaac Girard, 3, of Stanwood, wriggled away from a firefighter when it was his turn to climb out of a firetruck for the next kid’s turn.
Isaac jumped in the back seat and hunkered down, leaving his mom looking around calling his name until his little blonde head popped up in the back window, shades covering his eyes. It was back to the stroller for Isaac.
When it was time for SnoHawk10, the Snohomish County sheriff’s rescue helicopter to arrive, everyone crowded together. Folks cheered and applauded as it landed. The kids shielded their faces from the wind, squinting away the rotor wash.
Oliver Schiessl, 4, perched on the shoulders of his father, Josh, for the big moment. He’d just scrambled out of an ambulance.
“The ambulance was awesome,” Oliver said.
Oliver woke up Tuesday asking when he was going to get to meet the police officers and firefighters for National Night Out, said his mom, Annalise.
“It’s just kind of an awesome thing to do,” she said. “It’s fun. It’s community.”
When the “bird” was safely landed, and chief pilot Bill Quistorf gave them the nod, the kids swarmed the chopper. Isaac stopped for a moment on the skids, hanging on tight, unsure they were going to stay still.
Luisa Perez snapped pictures as her girls posed against the shiny helicopter. One of the girls stretched onto her tip-toes to look taller next to her sisters. Quistorf had just showed one of the girls how to move the controls in the pilot’s seat.
Gabriel Wells, 9, leaned over the rope so a police explorer could sign the cast on his arm.
He watched search-and-rescue volunteer and local fire chief Travis Hots use his hands to move the helicopter blades out of the way.
Gabriel looked at his mom.
“They’re kickstarting it!” he said.