By Morgan Bryce
The Museum of East Alabama will host a joint ribbon-cutting ceremony with the Opelika Chamber of Commerce June 28 to debut its new “First Responders Exhibit.”
Stockpiled with nostalgic items from Opelika’s fire and police departments, MEA Director Glenn Buxton said he believes the exhibit serves to recognize the service of area first responders and give museum visitors a glimpse into the city’s past.
“A lot of these items don’t exist anymore. We got a lot of things in here that aren’t valuable, but they have a lot of sentimental value,” Buxton said.
Built to mimic the appearance of an old Opelika fire station, the exhibit features a loft, fire pole, beds and fire-truck apparatus dedicated by the OFD. Police memorabilia includes handcuffs, badges and vintage uniforms worn by OPD and Lee County Sheriff’s Office members.
The exhibit’s showcase item, though, is a vintage 1948 Ford pumper truck, which was used for more than 25 years by the OFD, Buxton estimates.
“That truck right there is historic. It has a lot of history and stories attached to it,” Buxton said. “We’re working on getting information on the truck and putting details about the fire engine, how it was used and why it’s significant.”
The exhibit’s completion is the realization of a nearly 10-year old idea, according to Buxton.
“This exhibit is one of the first major changes we’ve made here since we redid the museum in 2010. And the response from the community has been great,” Buxton said. “I think kids really get a charge out of it. They come and want to get on or close to the truck, which is one great advantage of having it physically here.”
The ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin at 4 p.m., and is free and open to the public. Niffer’s will provide refreshments during the event.
For more information, call 334-749-2751. The museum is located at 121 S. 9th St. and is open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday – Friday and 2-4 p.m. on Saturdays.