National Night Out to promote local solidarity

Tuesday, Aug. 1, is National Night Out, an annual event designed to build bonds between neighbors and law enforcement, according to the National Association of Town Watch, which sponsors the event.

“National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our neighborhoods safer, more caring places to live. National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community. Furthermore, it provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances,” reads the description at “Millions of neighbors take part in National Night Out across thousands of communities from all 50 states, U.S. territories and military bases worldwide on the first Tuesday in August. Neighborhoods host block parties, festivals, parades, cookouts and various other community events with safety demonstrations, seminars, youth events, visits from emergency personnel, exhibits and much, much more.”

National Night Out was introduced in August 1984 through an already established network of law enforcement agencies, neighborhood watch groups, civic groups, state and regional crime prevention associations and volunteers across the nation. The first National Night Out involved 2.5 million neighbors across 400 communities in 23 states.

“The best way to build a safer community is to know your neighbors and your surroundings,” states former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison on the website. “National Night Out triumphs over a culture that isolates us from each other and allows us to rediscover our own communities.”

Members of the Hinsdale community are invited to participate in the local National Night Out starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1, at Central Park, 1450 Forest Gate Road in Oak Brook. The free event, co-sponsored by the Hinsdale and Oak Brook police departments in partnership with the Oak Brook Park District, has activities and attractions for the entire family to enjoy.

The festivities will open with the singing of the National Anthem. From 5 to 6:25 p.m., kids are invited to enter a raffle to be a judge for a pie tasting contest. Members of the police departments and the Oak Brook Park District will share their best pies, and two “celebrity” kid judges will be chosen to help choose the Pie Trophy winner. At 6:30 p.m. members of the police departments and the park district will hold a pie-eating contest.

The evening also will include a demonstration by K9 Ghost, and meet and greet with Bandit, a dunk tank, a DJ, a balloon artist, face painting, wagon rides, kids games including children’s sack races, hula hoop contest, water balloon relay, and tug-a-war, a popcorn booth and a visit from McGruff the Crime Dog.

The night will close with an outdoor screening of “Trolls” at dusk in the park.

As we often hear from local law enforcement, Hinsdale is a low-crime village but not a no-crime village. The best way to help the police protect us is to cultivate a spirit of community that stands against forces that would threaten our safety. So let’s enjoy a night out together!