Tonight's the night when residents in cities, villages and towns in all 50 states will lock their doors, turn on their porch lights and hang out with their neighbors and city officials.
Why? Because today, Aug. 3, is National Night Out - the 27th annual crime- and drug-prevention event sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch and Target.
More than 36 million people took part last year with block parties, flashlight walks, parades and cookouts to increase awareness, support local anti-crime programs and strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community relations.
Wood Dale, for example, is marking the 12th year it has participated in the National Night Out with activities running from 5 to 9 p.m.
The city has just about everything that could be going on at a big community event - a dunk tank, DJ, sack races, water balloon tosses, Bozo buckets, temporary tattoos, a moon jump, balloon artist, sidewalk chalk contest, free bingo and raffles featuring donated bicycles, restaurant gift cards and an iPod.
Not to mention train safety information provided by Metra, police and fire department vehicle displays and canine unit demonstrations with Laika, the department's 68-pound Belgian Mallinois.
"It's a lot of fun," said Eileen Schultz, the police chief's secretary and head event planner. "The officers and the kids get to interact with each other and the kids get to see them in a different light other than just driving around."
Activities start on the field behind city hall, 404 N. Wood Dale Road. Around 7 p.m., the event, which has won National Night Out awards for the past five years, will move over to the water park at 161 W.Commercial St. until 9 p.m. for free swimming, a coin toss, ice cream, drinks and hot dogs cooked by police officials.
Here's a sampling of what's happening in the rest of DuPage County:
Addison: National Night Out in Addison includes a community pizza tasting as local vendors vie for the People's Choice Award in the Addison by the Slice contest.
Events, including the pizza voting, run from 6 to 9 p.m. on the Village Green east of Village Hall, 1 Friendship Plaza. Musical group Paparazzi performs as the event incorporates the weekly Concerts in the Park series.
Aurora: Residents have planned events in their own neighborhoods. For example, the Cinnamon Glen and Country Oaks subdivisions in Aurora will celebrate from 6:30 to 9 p.m. with a children's story hour, free food and visits from firefighters, police officers and elected officials. It's their fourth event and all residents are welcome at the 2600 block of Stanton Court and Prairieview Lane South.
Meanwhile, residents of the Georgetown subdivision have festvities from 6 to 8 p.m. at 955 Long Grove Drive. There will be free food, live music, a clown and the Aurora Library Book Mobile, along with other kid's activities.
Bensenville: Residents can ice skate with police officers and take part in a cookout and other activities from 6 to 8 p.m. at Edge Ice Arena, 735 E. Jefferson St.
Bloomingdale: Families can enjoy a free night of swimming, games and a cookout from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Bloomingdale Park District's pool, 172 S. Cicrcle Ave.
Carol Stream: The village will be celebrating from 6 to 10 p.m. with a free barbecue in Community Park, complete with various exhibits, carnival rides, live music and a candle-lit march.
Glendale Heights: The town is going green for its National Night Out, which will be held from 6 p.m. to dusk at Camera Park, 100 E. Fullerton Ave.
Boy Scout Crew 1010 will collect used computers to donate to local families. The scouts will clear your computers of all important information. Also, a free shredder truck will be on hand to destroy important documents and promote identity theft awareness.
Crime-fighting mascot McGruff will make an appearance and there will also be emergency equipment and canine demonstrations, a police dunk tank and free hamburgers, hot dogs and soft drinks.
Itasca: The police department is coordinating interactive activities highlighting the village's public services and amenities, from the Itasca Fire Protection District, library and park district to the historical museum to the pubic works department and village government. Beginning at 6 p.m. residents can visit each display to earn stamps on a National Night Out passport. Those who receive stamps from all the village entities are eligible for prizes.
Naperville: Quite a few neighborhoods throught the city are holding block parties today, police Cmdr. Ken Parcel said.
"In conjunction with the public works department and fire department, we're going to be stopping by at those parties and mingling with the residents to foster a positive relationship and encourage neighbors and people to look out for each other," Parcel said.
Oakbrook Terrace: Festivities begin at 6 p.m. at Heritage Park, 1S325 Ardmore Ave., leading up the a free showing of the family movie "Monsters vs. Aliens" at 8:45 p.m.
Roselle: The village observes National Night Out with a display of police, fire and public works vehicles, the Roselle Charity Duck Race, free hot dogs, live music, crime and fire prevention booths, face painting, a climbing wall and a movie on a big screen. Events run 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. in Turner Park, 81 E. Devon Ave.
Villa Park: The town hosts its first National Night Out event from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Village Hall, 20 S. Ardmore Ave. There will be police vehicles and equipment, prizes and refreshments.
Warrenville: The police department hosts its National Night Out event from 6 to 9 p.m. at Summerlakes Park and Club House, 3S020 Continental Drive. There will be a DJ, police dog demonstration, activities for kids, raffles, prizes and refreshments.
West Chicago: Residents have "all sorts of stuff" to look forward to at the city's 21st National Night Out event, police Sgt. Chris Woodill said.
From 6 to 8:30 p.m. at Reed-Keppler Park, there will be vehicle displays, music, giveaways and free hot dogs and soft drinks. Last year, more than 2,300 people came out to the event - which has won the city several oustanding participation awards over the years.
Wheaton: Police officers will concentrate their patrol efforts on residential areas so they can meet and greet community members. Meanwhile, bicycle officers will be out and about mingling with people.