Kids in Hanceville and throughout the county joined teachers, parents, law enforcement and event sponsors for a pretty thrilling back-to-school sendoff at the 10th annual Kids’ Night Out Friday.
The event, which has grown in popularity every year since Hanceville began hosting Night Out at the city’s C.W. Day park, drew thousands for an evening of games, free food, swimming and hands-on fun with all the big stuff that police, firefighters and emergency crews use to keep communities safe.
“It’s been a great turnout, which was a big relief because of a couple of small changes we made this year,” said mayor Kenneth Nail Friday. “We decided this year, for the first time, to hand out the back-to-school supply bags at the schools, instead of at this event, and we hoped it wouldn’t affect our attendance. Looking around, I’d say it didn’t.”
Hanceville’s Kids’ Night Out is just one of hundreds of similar Night Out events held across the country to help strengthen the bonds between young people and public safety officers in the places they live. Kids get to climb inside the cockpits of rescue helicopters, hop aboard fire engines and blare police sirens, and get to know the staff of the local agencies that offer response services.
Of course, there’re plenty of other activities, from face painting and train rides to archery and inflatable slides. It’s a chance for dozens of local sponsors to show their support for local children, and organizers said that support leaves them humbled every year.
“I just can’t even say enough about the amazing help we receive,” said Hanceville council member Joan Walls, dressed as Raggedy Ann and handing out law enforcement info packets to kids at the event.
“All of the food and drinks are free, and the rides and games and equipment that go into putting this on — those things are all provided by the sponsors who really make this possible every year. It really shows the level of care and commitment our industries and banks and local businesses have for the children in our community, and I think we’re really fortunate to live in a place where people line up again and again to build these kinds of relationships with our young people.”
* Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.