National Night Out is an annual event that Opelika participates in each year, allowing the community, city officials and officers to come together.
A family event for all ages, children had the opportunity to ride horses, jump in bouncy castles and decorate cookies. Live music drifted over the grass as people ate watermelon and hotdogs.
One of the major goals of National Night Out is to give the community a chance to meet their police officers, sheriff department, fire department and elected officials.
“If we show appreciation to our officers – they- they should have a day where everybody pays it forward to them,” said Brittney Ambrocio, who brought her two sons, Braxton and Neymar. “They’re always out here helping us.”
Katie Spotswood, volunteer coordinator with Encompass Health Hospice, said that she likes the idea of an event like National Night Out.
“Making sure kids understand that police are the good guys, firefighters are the good guys, that people that went out and helped in Beauregard with tornadoes, those are the good guys,” Spotswood said.
Mayor Gary Fuller gave a presentation to honor and thank different churches that provided help during the March 2019 tornadoes that tore through Beauregard.
The Revs. Clifford Jones from Greater Peace Baptist Church, Belinda Barnes from Nazareth Baptist Church and Wayne Smith from Providence Baptist Church represented their churches, along with Rising Star Baptist Church.
Additionally a bell was rung for fallen victims from the tornadoes, along with Auburn Police Officer William Buechner who lost his life in action in May.
Valenstine Penn, one of the organizers of the event, said that this was one of the ways this 36th-year event differed from the previous year, in addition to more people who wanted to get involved.
An event like National Night Out "helps to educate the community on a lot of resources that are available,” Lakeshia Dowdell, prevention education counselor for the United Wellness Center, said. “It binds the community together. An event like this you have so many different organizations out here to let the community know that we are there for them.”