National Night Out, hosted by the Cheaha Regional Mental Health Center Prevention Advisory Coalition, is Aug. 7 from 5-7 p.m. at Noble Park. Citizens are invited to enjoy free food, games and activities at the annual event.
“It’s a very important event in Sylacauga and all across the country,” said Richard Bonds, CRMHC prevention specialist. “We try to get as much attention and information out to the community as we possibly can in one night.”
Law enforcement and other first-responder agencies, such as the Fire Department, Rescue Squad, Sylacauga Alliance for Family Enhancement and Coosa Valley Medical Center, will be in attendance to share information and respond to citizens’ concerns.
Police Lt. Mike Gorman said this year’s Night Out may be the biggest yet.
“Last year was our biggest night with 500 people or more,” Gorman said. “This year is already shaping up to be a lot bigger than that because of the things we have coming and going on. We’re expecting maybe 1,000 to 1,200 people.”
Police Chief Chris Carden said the event is beneficial to the department’s efforts to stay active within the community.
“Long before I ever became a police chief, I served as the department’s community resource and crime prevention officer,” Carden said. “It was through events such as National Night Out that many long-lasting and beneficial relationships have been developed for Sylacauga.
“Part of the mission for National Night Out is to strengthen the community spirit,” Carden said. “We have such a tremendous outpouring of support from our Sylacauga citizens, and we love being a part of this event.”
Along with information booths from more than 20 community organizations, this year’s night out will feature some special activities for youth. There will be a three-on-three basketball competition for ages 9-17 as well as a break-dancing competition. There will also be a “Gaming Ride,” which is a bus equipped with televisions and video game systems. Bonds said they are hoping to add other activities like a bungee jump, face painting, a dance performance and additional bands.
Started in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch, Bonds said National Night Out has been an effective format for delivering important information.
“To prevent crime and drug abuse, the association decided they needed to take the streets back, and they wanted to have one big, huge event every year to draw attention to that,” Bonds said. “That idea gave birth to National Night Out, and it just keeps growing and growing.”
Hot dogs and hamburgers will be provided by The Sanctuary, and Blue Bell Creameries will offer free ice cream. The event is still in need of hot dog, hamburger meat, buns and drinks. Organizations that would like to have a table at the event can still sign up. Each group is asked to bring a snack food item.
To donate or sign up for a table, contact Bonds at 256-249-2395.
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