Benedictine University's observance of National Night Out on Tuesday promises to blend the feel of a block party with some important safety tips for folks of all ages.
The observance -- held on the same night as Night Out events in communities throughout the region -- will run from 5 to 8 p.m. and features food, hayrides, free raffles, a bounce house, children's games and plenty of giveaways.
"We wanted to put a little twist on Night Out for the community to meet and interact with first-responders in a nonthreatening situation," Benedictine University police Chief Michael Salatino said.
"We want to show the community the other side of police and fire. It is a great time for us to address questions and get better acquainted with people who care deeply about the strength and vitality of their community."
Visitors will have a variety of things to enjoy, such as a large display of police and fire vehicles, appearances by members of the Chicago Red Stars professional women's soccer team, and a performance by the Bagpipes and Drums of the Emerald Society of the Chicago Police Department. K-9 narcotic teams also will give demonstrations.
Benedictine police will have their retrofitted Humvee on display.
"The Humvee was donated to us from a military program called the Law Enforcement Support Office Program managed by the Department of Defense," community service officer Jordan Billups said.
The retrofitted Humvee is the university police department's communication platform. Supporters helped turn it into a fully equipped emergency vehicle and more, Salatino said.
"If we lose power, we could light up several buildings with the generator on board our Humvee," Salatino said. "It is a Wi-Fi hot spot, so we could run computers and cellphones and keep communications open."
Last year, the Humvee took stranded motorists to safety from flooded parking lots on the campus.
Along with the celebratory nature of the event comes an important message.
The National Association of Town Watch is in its 31st year and involves an estimated 37.8 million people in more than 16,000 communities from all 50 states. It's organized to heighten crime prevention awareness by encouraging residents to turn on their porch lights and come outside to meet neighbors.
"This is a night for America to stand together and promote awareness, safety and neighborhood unity," Executive Director Matt Peskin said. "It showcases the vital importance of police and community partnerships and citizen involvement in our fight for a safer nation."
Peskin views each person who participates in a Night Out event as a vote against crime.
"The neighborhood camaraderie, police-community partnerships and crime-prevention activities let criminals know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back," Peskin said.
Participants at Benedictine will include the Lisle Police Department, Woodridge Police Department, Lisle- Woodridge Fire District, Benedictine University Police, Lewis University Police, Brookfield Zoo Police, DuPage County Sheriff, Illinois State Police, Illinois Secretary of State Police, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, and Illinois Commerce Commission Police and Drug Enforcement Administration.
By having such a diverse group of first-responders, organizers want to demonstrate there are a lot of nontraditional first-responders that can be relied on in an emergency; professionals who will respond to their community's emergency and work on disaster relief.
The Night Out event is on the Lisle campus near the corner of College and Maple avenues.
One of the evening's highlights is a softball game between the Lisle-Woodridge Fire District and the Benedictine/Lisle police departments.
The winning team will earn bragging rights along with a trophy and individual medals.
Salatino said he thinks the night will be a positive experience for the entire community.
"When you leave here," he said, "we hope you will feel a lot more confident in the type of people who are your first responders."