Columnists

NPD Therapy Dog Luna to Serve as 2022 July 4th Parade Grand Marshal

(Photo courtesy of the City of Noblesville)
Officer Ben Lugar (left), Luna’s primary handler, pictured with Luna (center) and Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen.

Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen has selected Noblesville Police Department Therapy Dog Luna as the grand marshal of this year’s Fourth of July Stars & Stripes Forever Parade sponsored by Gaylor Electric. The 1-year-old black lab joined the police force earlier this year. Luna’s job is to comfort and love people. She helps police officers, firefighters, first responders and community members dealing with stress or trauma.

“The Fourth of July is about celebrating our freedom and independence and Luna helps members of the community regain their own freedom from mental health issues. Luna’s presence helps to calm and de-escalate stress and emotions in people who are having a bad day and need help,” said Jensen. “Therapy dogs help break down barriers to communication. By combining emotional support and therapeutic interventions, such as nuzzling and laying on the lap of someone in crisis, Luna helps reduce anxiety and stress, in addition to biological stressors like heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.”

Officer Ben Lugar is Luna’s primary handler. They both went through training together and Lugar and will join her in the parade. Luna’s first day on the job was in February and on that same day, she was deployed to her first call.

“The child was just going through a pretty stressful environment and home life. The child was in crisis mode and just hearing that Luna was out there helped instantly calm that child down so we could get the family connected to resources. Luna helped the child know that we are here to support you,” Lugar said.

Luna is part of Noblesville’s NobleAct created in 2020 by Mayor Jensen. The initiative is meant to help victims in need from substance abuse to homelessness and even those dealing with mental health issues. Adding therapy dog’s into public safety is a newer concept and Luna is the first in Hamilton County. She is on-call 24/7 and has made an immediate impact within the community and become a great resource for first responders.

“Luna is an invaluable asset for the Noblesville Police Department and Noblesville community. Her presence at the department with officers and staff always makes coming to work a joy for me and she has given me a renewed passion for policing,” said Lugar. “When we are out in the public, community members always come up to see her and thank her. She really is the goal of Noble Act, to build those strong community connections so we all have the common goal of being healthy, happy and safe.”

This year’s free festivities will take place on Monday, July 4 with the theme of “Stars and Stripes Forever in Noblesville.” The fun begins at 4:30 p.m. with the downtown parade presented by Gaylor Electric. The expanded free fireworks festival sponsored by IDI Composites follows from 6 to 10 p.m. at Forest Park with activities for kids, teens and adults, food vendors and more. Hairbanger’s Ball will perform on the Republic Services Main Stage from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Free trolley rides will be available from Noblesville High School’s parking lot to Forest Park thanks to BJ’s Wholesale Club throughout and after the festival. At 10 p.m., the annual fireworks display will begin from the Forest Park Golf Course. A Fireworks viewing area with nearby parking will be available at Federal Hill Commons for those wanting to just see the fireworks.

Those interested in participating in the 2022 Noblesville July 4th Parade have until Wednesday, June 29 to submit entry forms, which are available online at http://noblesvillefireworksfestival.com. Registration is $25. The City of Noblesville is waiving the entry fee to all nonprofits organizations that want to participate. For more information about the parade, contact Amber Mink at amink@noblesville.in.us.

Noblesville is the 10th largest city in Indiana, home to more than 69,600 residents, and the county seat in Hamilton County, Indiana. Just north of Indianapolis, the growing city is known for its nationally recognized public schools, extensive public park system, Hamilton Town Center, and the outdoor music venue Ruoff Music Center.