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updated: 8/6/2012 6:42 AM

DuPage towns observing National Night Out

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  • DuPage communities from Itasca to Naperville will observe National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 7, with a variety of events designed to bring residents in contact with firefighters, police officers and others.

      DuPage communities from Itasca to Naperville will observe National Night Out Tuesday, Aug. 7, with a variety of events designed to bring residents in contact with firefighters, police officers and others.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Residents in many DuPage County communities will get a chance to interact with police officers and firefighters Tuesday, Aug. 7, during a wide range of National Night Out activities.

      Residents in many DuPage County communities will get a chance to interact with police officers and firefighters Tuesday, Aug. 7, during a wide range of National Night Out activities.
    Daily Herald file photo

 
 

The link that connects millions of homes on National Night Out is largely symbolic.

Residents across the country will lock their doors and flip on their porch lights Tuesday, Aug, 7, to show their dedication to crime prevention in the annual event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch.

But many DuPage County communities are taking that a step further: From concerts and barbecues to a helicopter display, law enforcement agencies are striving to create an intimate, entertaining evening to share tools and strategies for fighting crime.

In Carol Stream, for example, neighbors can mingle with police officers at Community Park on Thornhill Drive for a free barbecue and concert by Serendipity that begins at 6 p.m. Both the police department and the Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream team up for the event.

"You break down the walls," Carol Stream police Sgt. Tom Miller said. "Some people are reluctant to approach a squad (car). This is a chance to get out and see that we're human and interact with them and answer their questions."

Wood Dale, meanwhile, has won honors from the National Association of Town Watch for six straight years based on criteria that include resident participation and a National Night Out campaign that produces short- and long-term impact.

Last year, Wood Dale's National Night Out event attracted more than 700 residents.

Organizers are hoping for a seventh consecutive award this year when a pilot from U.S. Customs and Border Protection lands a helicopter, weather permitting, at the field near the police department, 404 N. Wood Dale Road. The entire celebration will run from 5 to 9 p.m.

Other activities will feature a DJ, displays of police and fire vehicles and a K-9 demonstration.

Free swimming also will be available from 7 to 9 p.m. at Wood Dale Water Park, 161 W. Commercial St., with more games, free food and raffles.

"It builds better relations with citizens and residents and the kids come and have a little face time with the chief and officers," said Eileen Schultz, executive assistant to police Chief Greg Vesta and coordinator of the event.

In Naperville, 35 neighborhoods have registered for National Night Out events, including a number of block parties. Police officers, firefighters or other city officials will make a stop at each location.

Besides highlighting police services, Carol Stream's Miller said the night helps build camaraderie.

"It's not just about getting to know the police better," Miller said. "It's about getting to know neighbors better and the neighborhood better and breaking down some of those barriers so people are comfortable in helping each other out."

For details on the national program, visit natw.org/nno.

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