South Elgin was among several Fox Valley communities participating in the 31st annual National Night Out Against Crime Tuesday with block parties, games and other activities.
National Night out, which is celebrated annually on the first Tuesday in August, aims to promote crime prevention and safety programs, strengthen police-community partnerships and encourage neighborhood camaraderie.
South Elgin's event included the return of Tammy Town, a traveling activity to promote child safety. A safety town is set up and kids are able to drive a Power Wheels police Dodge Charger after being given a scenario. The scenarios are stranger danger and child safety.
South Elgin and Countryside Fire Protection District also had their Emergency Smoke House for kids to experience. The police department's new K-9 officer, Rio, also made an appearance giving a demonstration with his partner, Officer Bryan Kmieciak, as well as with Officer Joe Mihalec.
Longtime South Elgin resident Jo Rasmussen has been attending the event for many years, originally while volunteering with the Lions Club. Now she brings her great-grandchildren, including Cici Ocampo, 3, of Carpentersville, who got to play a police officer -- and drive the car -- in Tammy Town.
"I think it's fabulous," Rasmussen said of the event. "They get to know that the policemen and firemen are real people, and it's just a great experience for them."
Rich Sawyer has been bringing his son and daughter, Skylar, 8, and Sydney, 4, to the event for the past four years.
"It's just a great family event. You get to connect with the community," he said, adding that his kids really enjoy it. "It's something special to them."