Summer is a time for outdoor celebrations, and on the first Tuesday in August, Reed-Keppler Park will be transformed to host a community block party in honor of the residents, business owners and local law-enforcement personnel dedicated to reducing crime and drug use in their neighborhoods.
Known as National Night Out (NNO), the event occurs concurrently in communities nationwide and is an initiative of the National Town Watch Association to foster police and community partnerships and increase citizen involvement in the fight for a safer nation.
This year marks a milestone in the history of the event, which began 30 years ago. West Chicago is one of 15,000 communities worldwide to participate in the annual event that has grown to include more than 37 million people since 1984.
Fostering collaboration and camaraderie between law-enforcement personnel and residents has been, and continues to be, the driving force behind the occasion. Initiatives such as this are proving to be a powerful force against crime.
A testament to the city’s continued commitment to crime reduction, the city of West Chicago recently was named the 74th Safest City in America by Location Inc., creators of the neighborhood research website NeighborhoodScout.
Crime Prevention Officer Tony Quarto, a 28-year veteran with the West Chicago Police Department, and a team of more than 30 volunteers, are organizing this year’s event. The city has actively participated in NNO for 24 years and, Quarto said, a key component to its success has been the growth of volunteerism on the committee level.
“The partnerships developed with the volunteers while preparing for this event make National Night Out a tremendous success. They provide creative ideas and the manpower to staff the event. We couldn’t do it without them,” he said.
The community is invited to “give crime a going away party” from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Aug. 6. Family-friendly activities include law-enforcement displays, vehicles and demonstrations, along with drawings for bicycles and giveaway items. Local businesses will be on hand serving hot dogs and Italian ice and passing out free samples. Activities are free and open to the public. Information may be obtained by calling the police department at 630-293-2222.
Rosemary Mackey is marketing and communications coordinator for the city of West Chicago