By Anna-Claire Terry
The Sportsplex and Aquatics Center of Opelika has hosted Friday Night Drop-In for 38 years.
Children in grades from sixth to eighth can pay a membership fee of $25, and come to the Sportsplex every following Friday night for a night of fun for only $5.
Reid Pope, Sportsplex manager, said the purpose of Friday Night Drop-In is to give children an alternative to staying at home or going out and getting in trouble.
Pope realizes that because this age group of kids is immobile and cannot drive, it is difficult for them to have fun plans for the weekend.
“This gives them a chance to be away from all of the structure at school and just be themselves and be with their friends,” Pope said.
According to Pope, Friday Night Drop-In is the weekend plans of about 150 to 175 children each Friday. Although the majority might be Opelika Middle School students, children from all over Lee County come to the Sportsplex to mingle and blow off some steam on Friday nights.
The event allows students from different schools to come together under one roof and enjoy each other’s company.
Attendees are provided with pizza, sodas, a game room, basketball courts, a DJ and much more. Some of the nights are themed and offer activities like mechanical bull riding and three-point shootouts.
“We try to give them something fun and different to do at least every other Friday night,” Pope said.
On Feb. 27, everyone was allowed to bring three canned food items instead of the usual $5 fee for admission. Five large boxes of canned goods and a monetary donation were given to the Community Market. Pope said this is done once a year as an effort to help out the community and to give young people a chance to give back.