More than a hundred people crowded into the South Side park for a Friday night "Peace in the Park After Dark" sleepover, meant to show community strength in the face of violence that has become an increasing fact of life in the long quiet neighborhood.
Dozens of children played games and stayed up way later than they should have, said Ald. Freddrenna Lyle, 6th, who stretched out on an air mattress herself.
"I was about to start making the rounds to some of these tents to let people know it was bedtime," she said.
By 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the young campers were standing shoulder to shoulder, patrolling the park on litter duty under the watchful eye of Canada Killam, a member of the Wisconsin National Guard who served with Wortham.
"I bet they wish they went to bed earlier now," Lyle said with a smile.
On Friday night, former gang members talked to the kids about serving time in prison, a message that hit home for Jaquan Dailey, 12.
"They said nobody came to visit them. Their supposed friends and family suddenly weren't there for them," Dailey recalled, as he waited in line for breakfast.
Wortham -- who had been head of the Cole Park advisory board - had talked of organizing something to reclaim the park after two shootings there worried people in the area that they were losing the fight against violence.
Instead, Wortham himself was fatally shot in May across the street from the park, outside his parents' home by a group of people trying to take his new motorcycle.
Lyle said that Chatham has a proud history of community involvement that both Wortham and the campout embodied.
"We're going to have to fight for this park, and we're going to do it. We're going to hand this park down to our children, just like it was handed down to us," Lyle said.
As the campers settled in for the night Friday, Wortham's mother Carolyn said her son was likely watching them from heaven with approval.
"I firmly believe he is looking down on this and he is having the time of his life," she said. "This is what he was working toward. This is what he wanted to happen."
Kewanis Carr, 14, was already looking forward to next year's Cole Park sleepover after staying up until 1 a.m. with friends at the inaugural event. But she vowed to be ready for the sudden onset of autumnal weather that had campers shivering in their tents.
"Next time I'll be better prepared," Carr said.