Community helpers convene at National Night Out

Published 4:37 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

National Night Out is an event geared toward creating safer communities by building and strengthening alliances and familiarity between law enforcement and neighbors. When I arrived at National Night Out in Pelham, the event, scheduled to last from 6-8 p.m., was in its final hour and the crowd was going strong.

Plato, the Publix Dragon Mascot was posing for photos and kids were grinning. The overwhelming majority of grown-ups were in uniform—mostly police officers along with some firefighters who were here to showcase equipment and share in the fun—a rare treat for Pelham Police and Fire.

Usually called upon when the public needs assistance, Pelham’s community helpers were enjoying National Night and interacting with the students who study them in school.

I am assured them that elementary schools continue to study community helpers each spring when creative writing students and I see how many of our first grade partners’ questionnaires reveal that they are interested in being police officers.

“Hi there,” said Josh Thompson, a Lit Mat staffer.

“Hi Josh,” I said. “Are you on Explorer duty tonight?”

“We are,” Thompson said proudly. “We’ve helped set-up and we’ll be helping return everything back to where it belongs later.”

Above his head, I witnessed a set of multicolored lights flying overhead.

“That’s the drone,” Thompson said. “That should produce some interesting footage of tonight.”

As I introduced my student to my companions, the fire inspector approached warning that a lighted birthday cake was about to come through our midst. This night was also Pelham Police Chief Larry Palmer’s birthday and he was completely surprised by the cake.

I overheard a quiet conversation behind me.

“Dad, I want some cake,” a little boy said.

“Son, that cake is not for you,” his dad replied.

As if on cue, Palmer said to the crowd, “Thanks so much. There’s plenty of cake for everyone.”

The dad smiled and nodded and the little boy lined up for cake. When the Chief spends his birthday—and shares his cake—at National Night Out, that says community matters in Pelham, Alabama.