Annual Peace in the Park camp out held in Chatham

Sarah Schulte Image
Friday, August 18, 2017

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The annual 'Peace in the Park' camp out returned to Nat King Cole Park in Chicago's Chatham neighborhood Friday night.

Kids registered while police officers, volunteering their time, got ready for an outdoor overnight campout that has become an annual tradition at Chatham's Nat King Cole Park. The Peace in the Park After Dark is held in the memory Chicago police officer Tom Wortham who was killed seven years ago across the street from the park.

"It's been successful every year, rain or shine, people come out and spend the night," said Carolyn Wortham, Officer Wortham's mother.

Carolyn said besides giving many children their first camping experience, the main point of the campout is to leave kids with a good impression of law enforcement.

"The young people get a chance to interact with the officers in a non-threatening environment doing positive things," Carolyn said.

In a much more somber tone, but also in tribute to one of Chicago's fallen officers, a memorial roll call was held for Officer Eric Lee, who was shot and killed in the line of duty 16 years ago.

"It's important for us, as a department. We will never forget and still support them," said Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

And for Lee's family, they said it's important for the public not to forget how brave officers are.

"You don't think about it until after the fact, how much sacrifice goes into the job and occupation, how much courage these officers have," said Erica Lee, Officer Lee' daughter.

Her point was echoed by Carolyn Wortham.

"There are so many just like Tommy. More good officer than bad," she said.