The saying “Go Big or Go Home” certainly applies to the Olympia Fields Police Department’s (OFPD) National Night Out event that took place on Tuesday, August 2, from 6–10 p.m. at Bicentennial Park. An estimated 250–300 community members attended the OFPD event, which was one of many such community-building events hosted, annually, by local police departments across the country. The National Night Out program was created to strengthen relationships between the police and the communities they serve.
The children delighted in carnival-themed activities, including an obstacle course with kid-size, ride-in police cars and ATVs, a bounce house, dunk tank, bumper cars, arts and crafts and face painting, while enjoying popcorn, cotton candy and ice cream from Olympia Fields’ own Shawn Michelle’s Homemade Ice Cream. It was an “all hands on deck” kind of event with police officers firing up the grill and serving hot dogs and hamburgers to hungry attendees. Guests took pictures in the photo tent, participated in Smai Tawi yoga sessions led by Michael Wilson and enjoyed the rhythmic performances of the Azania Youth Drum Ensemble and indigenous drummers. Attendees were also able to purchase a variety of one-of-a-kind items, such as monogrammed glassware, stationery, jewelry and handbags from the many vendors who set up shop at the event. The Olympia Fields Park District and various local stores, community groups and organizations donated items and set up booths giving away plenty of freebies, including toiletries, children’s books and duffel bags.
One of the evening’s highlights was the raffle of an electric guitar autographed by Buddy Guy. Mr. Alex Freeman was the lucky winner of the guitar, which was donated by Village resident Ron Vasser. The other highlight of the evening was the mini-auto show sponsored by the Chicago Crossroads Corvette Club, arranged by Mr. Vasser, who is a club member.
Joining in on the fun were State Representative Debbie Meyers-Martin, Rich Township Supervisor Calvin Jordan, Village President Sterling Burke, Village Trustees Sandra Finley and Kelvin Oliver, Village Administrator Drella Savage, and a host of members of various Village committees and homeowners associations.
The event’s primary organizers were OFPD officers Rhonda Chatman and Chivon Dugan, with the support of their fellow officers. “It was a lot of hard work, and very worth it to see the community come out and enjoy themselves. That was the goal. We’ve already started making notes for next year; it’s going to be awesome,” commented Officer Dugan. Officer Chatman, who doubled as the DJ for the evening, enthusiastically predicted, “Next year’s event will be bigger and better.” Officers Chatman and Dugan were both recognized by the Village President and the Board of Trustees with a commendation for their hard work in planning the OFPD’s National Night Out event.
Trustee Kelvin Oliver, a long-time resident and member of the Village’s Public Safety Commission, remarked, “This year’s National Night Out at Bicentennial Park allowed ample space for music, games, food, rides and, most importantly, the opportunity for residents to meet and interact with the Olympia Fields Police Department in a positive way—building bridges of hope, respect and trust! As a resident, the event filled me with pride, and as the Public Safety Trustee Liaison, I am committed to fostering community policing. I salute Chief Derrick Blasingame and his entire Police Department for setting a standard that all communities should live up to. Our Village President Sterling Burke often speaks of the importance of preserving the beauty, charm and nature of Olympia Fields; this event exemplified that and more.”
Click here to view a video of the OFPD National Night Out event courtesy of Mr. Ron Vasser.