CAMPTON HILLS – Lady, the 23-year-old American Saddlebred horse, lifted her brown head to small children as they reached up to pet her.
Kevin Griffin, a member of the Kane County Mounted Rangers, held Lady’s halter as child after child came up for a touch.
“I just love when the kids come up and they’re wide-eyed,” Griffin said. “The kids are so fun when they come up: ‘Can I pet your horse?’ And they’ll have a sucker and they’ll hold it toward the horse like they think she’s going to lick it – and she takes the whole thing.”
Crowds of families came to Campton Hills’ 12th National Night Out Against Crime event Aug. 7, which not only featured the rangers’ horses, but also free food, face painting, bag toss, karate demonstrations and camaraderie with police while not in an emergency situation.
Mary Etta Lenkaitis of Campton Hills said she enjoyed the event which helps bring people in the community together.
“I bump into people I don’t see that often,” Lenkaitis said. “I see the police in a more relaxed manner.”
Her two granddaughters, Kateyln Dorn, 10 and Ella Dorn, 8, were excited to be part of it.
“It’s good,” Katelyn said.
“My favorite is the horse,” Ella said.
Josh Hendricks of Campton Hills, who was there with his wife and three children, said it was his first time at a National Night Out event.
“This is awesome,” Hendricks said. “A bunch of local stores sharing everything. We have a big bag full of goodies. We did the taekwondo obstacle course, we sat through the gun safety training, all of the vendors. We got some pizza from Taylor Street and now the kids want to go pet a horse.”
Retired police chief Dan Hoffman was wearing an apron as he cooked up a batch of hot dogs on a large grill – both regular and vegan – while a stream of people picked them up and sat out at tables to have dinner.
Among them were Bill and Kim Muhr of Campton Hills, at their first National Night Out event.
“So far, it’s good food, nice to walk around and see what’s happening,” Bill Muhr said, as the couple finished their hot dogs.
Alyssa Nugent of Campton Hills was also enjoying the event – for the first time – with her husband son.
“There’s a lot to do,” Nugent said. “Our 3-year-old loves it. He’s doing all the activities and now we’re getting all the goodies.”
Among the various vendors, the police department was promoting its Citizen Police Academy, relying on alumni like Daniel Boone to talk it up.
“It was a great experience,” Boone said of his experience. “We have eight people signed up.”
National Night Out is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie while providing an opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances, according to its website, natw.org.