Six-year-old Summer Cui at National Night Out.

Summer Cui probably has no idea what police-community relations means.

But the six-year-old gave a big “yeah, thank you!” when asked if she enjoyed having the face-painting/makeup artist put bright colors around her eyes and on her forehead.

Summer was among those who played games, had snacks, and watched an outdoor movie at Centennial Park on Tuesday during National Night Out.

But there is also far more to the night than just that. It’s also a chance for citizens and first responders to get to know each other.

Evanston has had such a night for years. The idea originated in suburban Philadelphia in 1984, as a way for community members to support one another, and thank those who put their own lives in danger to keep them safe.

The event has since spread across the country.

At first (and still to this day), residents of a town would simply sit on their porches and put on their lights, as a way of saying “Hey, we’re all in this together.”

But in Evanston’s case, “together” also meant together along the lake.

Police Chief Schenita Stewart said the event is “extremely important.”

EPD Officer Mike Kane and Chief Schenita Stewart.

Stewart was pleased that so many of her officers, as well as firefighter and other city employees were on hand, to “show the partnership” with the public.

Representatives of various social service, youth service, and anti-crime organizations were there as well.

Members of “People for a Safer Evanston” (in blue) talk with community residents.

Yes, those groups represent serious stuff.

But a bit down the lakefront, some very un-serious action also taking place.

Two-and-a-half year old Evan Dyzenhaus was jumping about as hard as a child his age could jump, trying to get some height in a bouncy house.

Evan’s mother Maria said seeing so many different people in the same place was an important message … one that a toddler might not understand now, but some day, he will

“It’s one of the reasons we moved to Evanston,” she said. “It’s a really diverse community.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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