National Night Out, a time set aside for police officers and community members to meet in a casual and fun setting, will be observed next week marking the 40th observance of the event nationally.
While many towns in Illinois and across the country will hold their National Night Out events on Tuesday, Aug. 1, some McHenry County towns will hold theirs on alternate dates.
National Night Out began in August 1984 with 2.5 million participants in 23 states, and is typically celebrated the first Tuesday in August in much of the U.S. Texas celebrates National Night Out on the first Tuesday in October.
Its longevity of spanning nearly four full decades points to its effectiveness, said Matt Peskin, the National Project Coordinator for the National Night Out organization.
“It has a positive effect,” Peskin said. “Nothing lasts a long time in the law enforcement world if it’s ineffective.”
According to the National Night Out’s website, 198 Illinois communities observe National Night Out, though not all McHenry County municipalities that observe the day are listed on the website.
Algonquin, Cary, Crystal Lake, Harvard, Hebron, Huntley, Island Lake, Lake in the Hills, McHenry, Oakwood Hills and Woodstock all will be observing National Night Out over the next several weeks, with many of the towns’ police departments using Facebook to share information about the events to the public.
The Algonquin Police Facebook page says that Police Chief Dennis Walker is willing to go into the dunk tank during the National Night Out event if the page gets 10,000 followers. Currently, the page has 8,700 followers. The Algonquin event will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 1 at Old Town Algonquin.
Cary’s event will involve tours of the police department and a LifeNet helicopter landing and taking off, among other festivities. The event will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 3 at the Cary Municipal Center.
“It’s a really fun event for the community,” Cary Deputy Chief of Police Chris Winkelmann said.
Crystal Lake’s National Night Out will feature DJs from Star 105.5, a Mascot Contest, a donut-eating contest, and giveaways from local businesses, among other things. Crystal Lake’s event will be Aug. 3 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in downtown Crystal Lake.
Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black said the city has been doing it for many years, and the event is specifically dedicated to hearing from residents.
“It’s another way for us to connect with residents,” Black said.
Harvard’s National Night Out will feature free food and a reptile show, among other festivities. The event will be held on Aug. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Harvard Moose Lodge.
National Night Out in Huntley will feature a Police vs. Fire softball game on Aug. 1 at 2 pm. at Eakin Field. Following the game, there will be a Concert on the Square in downtown Huntley. Bella Cain will be performing.
Huntley Police Deputy Chief Linda Hooten said that the Huntley police department works to build community relations year-round, not just on National Night Out.
“Officers are big on walking patrols,” Hooten said.
Hebron’s National Night Out will take place on July 29 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Hebron Community Park. A Facebook post about the event tells attendees to bring a chair, blanket and bug spray.
Island Lake’s National Night Out will be held on Aug. 1 from 6 pm. to 8 p.m. at the Island Lake Police Department.
Lake in the Hills’ National Night Out will be held on Saturday, Aug. 5 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Irv Floress Safety Education Center. The event will feature a K-9 demo from the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office and free hot dogs, chips and pop, among other things.
Lake in the Hills Police Officer Amanda Schmitt said the department offers community programming throughout the year, including a chats program, where officers meet residents around the community in a casual setting.
“We want people to come and talk to us,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt said the department has done the event for 25 to 30 years. In recent years, the event has been held on a Saturday.
“We moved ours to a Saturday so that people don’t have to worry about nighttime hours,” Schmitt said.
McHenry’s National Night Out features free food, a K-9 presentation at 5:30 p.m. and a second one at 7 p.m., and a raffle, among other festivities. The event will take place on Aug. 8 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Petersen Park.
Oakwood Hills will have a National Night Out on Aug. 1 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Oakwood Hills Park.
Woodstock’s National Night Out will be held at Woodstock Water Works on Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m. Attendees can swim at the pool during the event, and the Facebook event states there will be a DJ as well.