News - Hero


Braidwood's police department to host its first night out event.

By Tonya Michalec
Staff writer


If you are looking for a great way to capture some completely free family fun, then make sure to add Braidwood Police Department's first National Night Out event to your list of summer activities.

A National Night Out is a community-police awareness-raising event, held all over the United States on the first Tuesday of August. The countrywide event has been held annually since 1984 and is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in the United States and also in Canada.

The event is meant to increase awareness about police programs such as drug prevention, town watch, neighborhood watch, and other anti-crime efforts, with some of the departments including fun themes and activities within the teachings to appeal to all ages who attend.

That is precisely the direction the group of Braidwood community volunteers took when they planned the lengthy list of attractions and fun activities that are combined with the original vision and purpose of the gathering.

The small planning group consists of Braidwood's Chief of Police Rich Girot, Mayor Bill Rulien, police department clerk Tari Atherton, purchasing manager Mary Beth Pressley, J&C Travel consultant and Chamber of Commerce President Angie Hutton andBraidwood Healthy Area Community Coalition member Pam Dell'Aquilla.

"National Night Out is supposed to be about getting all the neighbors out and being like a big block party of fun, while also entertaining the concepts of awareness in the community," explained Atherton.

The outdoor extravaganza will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 6, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Braidwood police station, which is attached to the city hall at 141 W. Main St. The event will flow out of the building's parking lot, into the open parking lot next to it and continue down the adjacent side streets of South Center and Kane streets.

The entire night and all of the activities will be put on by area volunteers and by students collecting National Honor Societycommunity service hours.

Rock climbing, bean bag toss competitions and hula hoop challenges, organized by Kristie McPherson of Essex, are just a few of the family fun games scheduled to be offered at the event.

There will also be an abundance of kid-targeted activities, like face painting by Katie Atherton of Mazon, and Anthony's Balloons, from Grayslake, IL. The artist can creatively form anything from an octopus to a mask of popeye, and everything in between, out of balloons.

Also, there will be a bouncy house, karaoke, sno-cones, chalk art and a story time reading presented by Fossil Ridge Public Library's children's librarian, Mallory Caise.


"I'm excited to get the community together like this and for the kids to meet the members of our police department," Pressley said.

Keeping the purpose of the event in mind, the group has multiple awareness demonstrations and a simulated intoxication experience.

For the intoxication simulation, participants, who must be licensed drivers, will be given vision impaired goggles to wear while they operate a motorized vehicle, which consists of a golf cart on loan to the department from Beaver Creek Golf Carts. Participants try to drive the golf cart through a small designated obstacle course in the parking area behind the city hall building. There are four different sets of glasses to use, each one having different levels of over the legal limit of vision impairment.

The event will also include a K-9 demonstration, performed by Steve Hunter who is a current K9 officer for the department. 

"Officer Hunter will hide a small amount of drugs, so that the public can see in action, how the dog will immediately seek them out and retrieve them for him," explained Atherton.

Some city hall employees will be there too, volunteering to hand out emergency memo magnet boards, "Be A Buddy Not A Bully" bracelets, and drug safety pamphlets to the crowd.

Neighborhood Watch sign up sheets and child identification fingerprinting will also be provided.

Don't worry about dinner that night, because the free family fun event also includes free food and beverages to all who attend.

"I would like to thank Berkot's for donating all of the food, J&C Travel for donating all of the drinks and thanks to Bobby Jones, of Joneseez Barbecue, for coming out to do all of the cooking at the upcoming National Night Out," Pressley said.

With attractions like the Mayor Bill Rulien's stint in the dunk tank and an over abundance of free family food and fun,Braidwood's National Night Out event is shaping up to become a major must-attend annual community event.

"Everything there will be free, no one has to pay for anything, but if anyone would like to donate, all of the donations collected will go straight to Braidwood's Food Pantry and to Braidwood's Coalition," Chief Girot said.

To find out more information about this event, or to volunteer your help, contact Mary Beth Pressley at 815-458-2333 or Tari Atherton at 815-458-2342.