ELBURN – Finn Hansen spent most of Tuesday night stacking dented cans so other youths could knock them down. Wearing a bright orange shirt that identified him as a member of Elburn Boy Scout Troop 7, his was one of a row of games assembled at Elburn’s National Night Out event at Lions Park.
He handed two bean bags to a girl, who knocked them down on her second try. A boy followed and did the same.
“This is the easy game,” said Finn, a 12-year-old Elburn resident. “A lot of people have made it.”
But the next girl had a complete miss on her first attempt and then left one can standing after the second. No prize that time, but she could try again.
“So close,” he said. “I don’t make the rules.”
The National Night Out event returned to Elburn after a one-year absence. The celebrations are staged throughout the country by police departments as a way to provide residents an opportunity to have a positive interaction with law-enforcement officials. Elburn police were the hosts of the party, but there also were officials from the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District, Elburn village officials, members of the Lions Club and Scouting leaders.
Elburn Trustee Dave Gualdoni was among those who pushed for the event to return. It was not held last year because of financial reasons, but Gualdoni said it really isn’t that expensive, and much of the event includes donations. He said trustees heard from community members who said they wanted the event to return.
“It’s a nice event for the kids,” Gualdoni said.
Gualdoni was grilling hot dogs, which was free for attendees. Nearby, kids met horses from the Kane County Rangers, ran through obstacle courses, played games with Scouts and visited a “safety house.”
Police Chief Steve Smith smiled as he met with residents, who came up to shake his hand as he made his way around Lions Park. He knelt down to talk with kids. And he acknowledged the value of such an event.
“It’s always been popular,” he said. “And it’s always been a good thing for the community.”
Village President Dave Anderson described such a scene as ideal, saying it’s important for residents to see police “as human beings. That’s the thing.”
Renate Behling of the Kane County Mounted Rangers was there with her horse, Macy. She pointed out another ranger, Warren Rylko, who was there with his horse, DJ. Youths flocked to get a closer look.
Fire Chief Kelly Callaghan and Assistant Chief Tate Haley said representatives from their department are at two events – the one at Lions Park and one in Campton Hills. They said they partner with the police for the event, along with others in town.
“It’s their party,” Callaghan said.
Haley looked at the crowd, with many youths playing games and carrying bags with prizes. He said there was one word to describe how he felt – “pleased.”
• Al Lagattolla is the news editor of the Kane County Chronicle. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.