By Morgan Bryce
Valestine Penn, the city of Opelika and Mayor Gary Fuller are asking the public leave their porch lights on and help celebrate in year’s National Night Event Aug. 6 beginning at 5 p.m. at Covington Recreation Center’s park.
Valestine, along with her brother Oscar, has been involved in coordinating the event since 2010. She took over as chairwoman in 2017, and said the event has displayed continual growth during the last nine years.
National Night Out, a movement founded in the mid 1980s, is an annual event held in Opelika and cities across the nation. Sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, the event is designed to be a community-building crime, drug and violence prevention campaign that advocates for and promotes community-police partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie.
According to a description on www.natw.org, “National Night Out enhances the relationship between neighbors and law enforcement while bringing back a true sense of community and provides a great opportunity to bring police and neighbors together under positive circumstances.”
“These concerns are not based on one race or portion of the city but the city as a whole. We have problems with (drugs) in this community, which can appeal to a broken child,” Oscar said. “Through National Night Out, we just want to wake up that awareness and let people know that there is hope and that there are resources for them right here in our community.”
The Penns said that there will be no march again this year because of late summer’s sweltering temperatures. This will allow the gathered crowd to hear messages from Fuller, the city council and members of local law enforcement as well as watch presentations of awards to area youth who are making a difference and churches who played a significant role in tornado recovery relief. There will also be a cake walk later in the evening.
Following are participating sponsors and vendors who are contributing to help make this event possible, which is subject to change until the day of the event:
- Academy Sports and Outdoors
- Airport Motors
- Child Care
- Christian Women’s Job Corps
- City of Opelika’s Parks and Recreation Department
- The Curtis House
- Direct Insurance
- Domestic Violence Intervention Center
- Gentry and Ware
- Glynn Smith
- Golden Corral
- Greater Peace
- Health and
- Magic 1520 AM
- Lee County
- Opelika Housing Authority
- Project Uplift
- Rape Center
- Senior Plus
- Walmart Vision Center
- Youth Development Center.
“We hope that this event will just bring people closer and closer together. The message we hope to put out is that we’re tired of crime and we just to want to love on one another,” Valestine said. “This will be just one night for us to come together and be one.”
Admission is free and food and drinks will be provided. Valestine will be accepting love donations until the day of the event.
For more information, call Valestine at 334-745-0150. The recreation center is located at 213 Carver Ave.