A free pool party, a DUI golf cart course and pedal car rides are just a few of the activities that can be found throughout the Northwest suburbs at events starting this week to promote police-community crime, drug and violence prevention efforts.
The local events are part of a larger National Night Out effort put on by the National Association of Town Watch and Target stores that is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 7.
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According to the National Night Out website, more than 15,000 communities across the nation took part last year. Most of the communities have a one-day event featuring a display of outdoor lights and front porch vigils in neighborhoods to send a message to criminals that crime is not tolerated, along with food, family activities, and police and firefighter demonstrations.
Through the years, though, Bartlett has put on one of the biggest National Night Out gatherings in the Chicago area. Police Sgt. Geoff Pretkelis said a driving force behind the village's three-day celebration -- which takes place at numerous locations on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 3 and 4, and on Tuesday, Aug. 7 -- is a desire to strengthen police relationships with citizens and build neighborhood camaraderie.
Bartlett took first place in 2010, 2007, 2004 and 2002 for hosting a National Night Out event in a community with a population of 15,000 to 49,000 people. The village also won a second place national award in 2009 and a third place award in 2011, Pretkelis said.
"We're hoping for another strong finish this year," he said, adding that each year village officials try to make it bigger and better. "We're really privileged here that we have strong participation in the community."
Arlington Heights has also won numerous awards for its National Night Out events, which this year start at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7, at North School Park, 410 N. Arlington Heights Road.
Highlights this year include a display of vehicles from the Cook County Sheriff's Bomb Squad, the U.S. Army and the American Red Cross and free discs parents can have made containing their children's fingerprints, photograph and a voice sample.
Arlington Heights Park District special events supervisor Laura Oberg said the event is unique because it helps form uncommon partnerships, such as one between the park district and the police department.
"It's just a great community experience," she said, adding that there are a lot of activities for people of all ages. "It seems every year more people know about it."
Other Northwest suburban National Night Out events will be held in Barrington, Des Plaines, Hoffman Estates, Maine Township, Schaumburg and Wheeling.