Hundreds Attend Salina Unity Event
Karen Shade - July 17, 2016 8:48 am
photo by Gerrett Mottis
Several hundred people gathered in Salina Saturday evening for a community unity event.
At the 4:00 PM start, at least 200 Salinans had gathered in Oakdale Park to unify, to recognize the importance of local law enforcement, and all lives. The event was intended to show “Unity in Kansas”, following recent unrest that includes the shooting deaths of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota, and have culminated with ambushes on police officers.
Captain Mike Sweeney, of the Salina Police Department, said he watched the Oakdale event become organized over the internet in the last couple of days.
Saline County Sheriff Deputy Chad Flesher passed out “sheriff stickers” to the many youngsters. He also distributed materials on bike safety and anti-bullying; he also serves as a school resource officer at Ell-Saline and Southeast Saline School Districts, Sacred Heart and Saint John’s. Flesher said his fellow deputies wanted to attend, but from the noise on the radio Flesher carried, it was clear his co-workers were out on a call. He said they hoped to be able to stop by and enjoy a hamburger and hot dog.
Accompanying Sweeney was Keith Anderson, who joined the SPD about a year ago and is new to Salina. He recently served six years in the Air Force, in a security capacity. Little ones seemed fascinated by his uniform and all the equipment Anderson wears around his waist.
Those who attended appreciated the slightly overcast skies, the brisk fans blowing in the shelter, and the food: grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, desserts, drinks, and cotton candy. Youngsters played in a bouncing castle and inflatable climbing wall/slide.
Two bikes and large stuffed animals served as prizes.
An 8’ red, white and blue balloon arch as well as flag banners added to the festive feel. Individuals quickly struck up conversations with others, creating a neighborly sense of community.