Note: Look for a photo gallery from National Night Out tomorrow on Patch.
The sirens blared through the parking lot of , as blue and red lights flashed. From behind the wheel of the car, amplified through the rooftop speakers, a surprisingly childlike voice rang out.
“Come out with your hands up! Step out of the car!”
After a minute of this, the speaker, all of six or seven, handed the microphone over to the next child waiting her turn, who took it with a giddy grin. A few paces away, the usual driver of that car, Officer Bob Kaleta, smiled and turned his attention back to the three kids asking him for freebies. He handed each of them a black eraser shaped like a police car.
This was the scene in the Foxmoor subdivision, on the village’s west side, during National Night Out on Tuesday evening. And the scene was mirrored all over the village, as residents took to the streets to send a message to criminals: don’t try it in our neighborhoods.
National Night Out, sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, is a chance for communities to band together against crime, by meeting their neighbors and public servants.
“It’s a great event for the community to meet their police and fire departments,” Kaleta said.
But for the kids delightedly milling about the McDole Elementary parking lot, it was an opportunity to try out police and fire equipment, and get their pictures taken in the cab of a Sugar Grove Fire Department truck.
Across Route 30 at , kids had the same experience, only with the Oswego Fire Protection District’s vehicles. Firefighter Roberto Flores said it’s an opportunity for him to meet the community members he serves.
“The little ones are interested in the vehicles, and it’s a way to make sure they’re not scared of the vehicles, or of us, in a time of need,” he said.
No worries there: some of the kids, he said, asked him if they could take the truck out for a spin.
Further east, at Spencer Street and Melrose Avenue, the Aurora Township Fire Department had set up a portable grilling station, and handed out free hot dogs and drinks. Most of the food, Chief Robert Waterman said, was donated by local businesses.
And Lt. Dennis Shamblin, the department’s fire prevention officer, gave out smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, all donated by FirstAlert. Many people, he said, don’t seem to have enough smoke detectors: “You should have one for every bedroom,” he said.
While the nationwide event has been shown to make neighborhoods safer by bringing residents together, Montgomery Trustee Stan Bond, who organized Foxmoor’s event, gave another reason for National Night Out.
“It’s a way to say thank you to our police and firemen, to say we appreciate what you do,” he said. “They don’t hear ‘thank you’ enough.”