CHESTERFIELD — Schadenfreude, that spark of joy you feel when a youngster's well aimed softball sends an eager police recruit into the dunk tank.

And there were plenty of smiles on young faces as recruits gladly took the plunge and it didn't hurt that their fellow officers were glad to nudge the mechanism that released the seat when a ball glanced off target.

It was all part of the fun and games at the Chesterfield Dairy Queen on Tuesday as the local fire and police departments joined a national effort to increase community involvement.

National Night Out started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch as a way to strengthen communities by fostering relationships between neighbors and the officers who work their streets.

“For young kids, a lot of times, their interaction with the police is because we’ve come to their home because there is domestic violence or because there is drugs or alcohol or the fire department is there because of an overdose or a fire.

"This is an opportunity for kids to see that police officers and firefighters are fun, we are human beings, we enjoy the same things they do and just having a good time tonight," said Todd Harmeson, information officer for Chesterfield Police and Chesterfield Union Township Fire departments.

Along with the dunk tank there were a balloon artist, K-9 demo by the Madison County Sheriff's Department, bike safety, fingerprinting and a chance for kids to operate a fire hose.

Dairy Queen owner Dave Sweet didn't hesitate when asked to host the event.

"Anything you can do to get people involved in the community, especially get kids connected with police and firemen," said Sweet.

A steady flow of families stopped by to check out the activities.

Resident Amanda Glant, who brought her daughter Ellie, was appreciative.

"I love it. We came from a bigger city and I like the small-town feel," Glant said.

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