National Night Out gathering volunteers
by Emily McLain
Sylacauga is taking back the streets from drugs and crime during its upcoming 10th annual National Night Out, a police and community awareness-raising event.

Organized by the Prevention Coalition at Cheaha Regional Mental Health Center, the event is set for August 6 from 6-8 p.m. at Noble Park. There will be free hamburgers and hot dogs, as well as a variety of children’s activities and performances from local talent.

“We are going to have lots and lots of stuff,” said CRMHC prevention specialist Richard Bonds. “It should be a great event.”

Activities for the evening will include bungee jumps, bouncers, face painting, a health fair from Coosa Valley Medical Center, information booths from churches and organizations, and performances from Southern gospel singers, high school bands, karate schools, Weogufka Songwriters Association, spoken word poetry from Tre Ragland and others. Representatives from the police and fire departments, the rescue squad and Oak Grove Town Watch will be present. Bonds said they also plan to have a TV weather team to program weather radios for the public. However, all of this cannot happen without the support of the community.

“We are looking for sponsors to donate the weather radios for programming, and we’re also looking for sponsors for the bouncies and bungees and the hamburgers, hot dogs, buns, drinks and all that,” he said. “And we’d love to have as many churches and groups with booths as possible. Noble Park is a big place, and we can fit a lot of people in there.”

Organizers are planning for around 2,000 attendees at this year’s event, which correlates with SAFE’s school supply giveaway to be held the same evening at J. Craig Smith Community Center across the street.

National Night Out has been sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch since 1984. It is held annually on the first Tuesday in August in cities around the country. While the evening is centered on fun, Bonds said National Night Out serves an important purpose.

“It’s two hours in which we get to take the streets and the park back from drug deals and crime,” he said. “One of the major reasons for doing this is because research has proven that kids who don’t have a good connection with their community will end up getting involved with not only drugs, but crime. If they don’t feel like the community cares about them, they’re going to do whatever they can to that community. By having events like this, we’re letting people know the community cares. Sylacauga has been very good about supporting us over the years, especially the last couple years. The event keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

To sponsor or donate supplies for the event, or to register for a booth, contact Bonds at 256-249-2395 or

Contact Emily Adams at
© 2013