The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Initiative, with the assistance of the Oak Lawn Fire Department, presented a demonstration showing the impact sprinkler systems have in limiting damage and tragedy in fires that can occur in homes and businesses. The demonstration above did not feature a sprinkler system. (Photos by Joe Boyle)

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Oak Lawn residents enjoy National Night Out

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By Joe Boyle

A large crowd attended the Oak Lawn National Night Out Tuesday night, which did not surprise Police Chief Dan Vittorio.

“We draw large crowds every year,” the Oak Lawn police chief said. “Last year, we had a lot of people, too. The year before that we did not have it because of COVID. But we had a large crowd back in 2019.

“Oak Lawn supports their police,” Vittorio added.

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Odin Lopez, 2, of Oak Lawn, gets behind the wheel of a race car driven by police officer Mike Sikorski during Oak Lawn National Night Out on Tuesday.

Families were in large abundance along with residents of all ages, who viewed a variety of displays that featured information and hands-on activities in the parking lot adjacent to the Oak Lawn police and fire departments.

Kids received plastic police and fire hats and had an opportunity to look inside the Region 4 South Mobile Field Force.

Sgt. Michael McNeela has been with the unit the past few years. He said the main tasks of the force is to maintain crowd control and help out during periods of civil unrest.

“We have five guys on the team,” said McNeela, who said the Oak Lawn unit has been existence for about 14 years. “We also help out in times of natural disasters.”

Youngsters also spent some time in ‘lockup” as officers gave the kids a chance to see what it is like to be inside a jail cell.

Boy Scout Troop 569 of Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Oak Lawn had snacks available for a nominal fee, including popcorn.

“There is a lot of people here but we had a lot of people last year, too,” said Luis Mayen, scoutmaster for the troop. “It’s a beautiful night.”

Youths ages 12 and under also received complimentary hot dogs.

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Youngsters have fun as they were “locked up” briefly as part of the Oak Lawn National Night Out on Tuesday night.

Mike Sikorski, an Oak Lawn police officer, takes part in sponsored car races to raise funds for the Special Olympics. He had his vehicle on display for youngsters who wanted an opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat.

Sikorski has been racing the car the past three years. This year the Special Olympics race will take place at Grundy County Speedway in Morris on Sept. 24.

“It is a great cause,” Sikorski said. “We have raised over $200,000 every year the past three years.”

The Oak Lawn Fire Department also had some tokens to pass out. They also gave kids an opportunity to slide down the fire pole.

The Northern Illinois Fire Sprinkler Initiative also presented a demonstration with the assistance of the Oak Lawn Fire Department on the need for sprinkler systems in homes and businesses.

The demonstration included one facsimile of a living room that was protected by a sprinkler system. During the demonstration, most of the furniture was still intact during the designed blaze because the sprinkler system reacted within three minutes.

Another living room that had no sprinkler system burned quickly before firefighters got on the scene as part of the demonstration. The demonstration emphasized the importance of having a working sprinkler system.

Vittorio said he was pleased at the turnout that was benefited by pleasant weather. While not commenting directly about the arrest of a teen last week, the police chief said the community has supported the police.

“In Oak Lawn, we’re good,” Vittorio said. “They support us.”

reporter OL NNO 2022 mike sikorski photo 8 4

Oak Lawn Police Officer Mike Sikorski stands alongside the race car he competes in to raise funds for the Special Olympics. The car was on display during the Oak Lawn National Night Out on Tuesday night.

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