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posted: 7/30/2014 2:36 PM

Bartlett police mix entertainment with crime-fighting tools for National Night Out

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  • Kids can take a close look at Bartlett police department rides during the village's National Night Out celebration.

      Kids can take a close look at Bartlett police department rides during the village's National Night Out celebration.
    JOE LEWNARD/Daily Herald, August 2013

  • The Division BMX Stunt Team returns for the 21st annual National Night Out picnic, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

      The Division BMX Stunt Team returns for the 21st annual National Night Out picnic, from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday.
    JOE LEWNARD/Daily Herald, August 2013


When a semi truck crashed into a Metra train in downtown Bartlett last October, dozens of shaken commuters were stranded.

The owners of Dance Motions Inc. threw open the doors to passengers, offering phones and coordinating with first responders at the dance studio on Railroad Avenue.

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It's one of the good Samaritans who Bartlett police will recognize during National Night Out. The village's version -- with events over four days -- ranks as the biggest in the Northwest suburbs.

It's a chance to demonstrate police capabilities and forge bonds between officers and residents in a more informal atmosphere. Police book free, family-friendly entertainment, but also make sure to arm youngsters and adults with the tools to prevent crime.

Teenagers can put a face on firefighters and cops at the Twilight Skate Park Bash from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday. The 10,000-square-foot park district facility tests skateboarders on a course at 620 W. Stearns Road.

Nearby, police have tapped a balloon artist, face painters and games during a tailgate party at the Jim Jensen Pavilion from 6 to 8 p.m.

Later, take a short stroll to the Bartlett Aquatic Center for a free pool party from 8 to 10 p.m.

On Saturday, police and firefighters will pick the winners of a lighting and block party competition from 3 to 10 p.m. More than a dozen neighborhoods and retirement communities will vie for the title in six categories: best lighting, overall block party, participation, theme, spirit and rookie of the year.

New this year is a blood drive from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday in the training room at police headquarters, 228 S. Main St.

Bartlett caps off National Night Out with a spotlight on businesses and residents who step up in emergencies.

"Bartlett has a lot to be proud of," police Sgt. Geoff Pretkelis said. "This is one of the ways Bartlett can show it's pride."

Dance Motions will be one of the recipients of the department's "Star Awards" at the 21st annual National Night Out picnic from 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Bartlett Park.

Police will serve up free hot dogs, beverages and a watermelon-eating contest. One crowd-pleaser will return this year: the Division BMX Stunt Team, a group of professionals who will unleash acrobatics on the back of their bikes.

"We have fantastic entertainment lined up," Pretkelis said.

The village has consistently raked in awards from the National Association of Town Watch, the nonprofit group that urges homeowners across the country to flip on their porch lights in a symbolic stance against crime on the first Tuesday night in August.

In 2013, Bartlett's National Night Out finished in the top three in a contest pitting towns with 15,000 to 49,999 residents.

Judges weigh police and neighborhood participation and the originality of special events, among other factors.

"It's just unbelievable the support we get," Pretkelis said.

He sees that community pride in the 12 neighborhoods and retirement communities who will host block parties Saturday. And in the thousands expected for the picnic -- one of the biggest events in town all year.

"That's the strength of our community," he said.

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