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Banner Elk Sees Good Turnout for National Night Out Community Event

By Nathan Ham

For 35 years, towns across America have participated in National Night Out, an event that is designed to bring communities together with their local police departments, sheriff’s departments and other emergency personnel.

On August 7, Banner Elk hosted a special event at the Banner Elk School with games, hotdogs, ice cream and music provided by DJ Alan. Residents across the High Country got a chance to meet and greet local law enforcement officials from both Avery County and Watauga County.

“National Night Out was a festival of fun and relationship building, as well as an evening of education for children and adults. Children of all ages were able to talk and rub shoulders with law enforcement and firefighters while they munched on free hot dogs, cotton candy and popcorn,” said Jim Swinkola, Avery County resident and member of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk. “Children were not only able to see a medical helicopter up close, but also sit inside.”

Seeing members of the community taking on new roles that most people are not used to seeing them in made this event even more special.

“Town councilmen were grilling and serving hot dogs in front of the Historic Banner Elk School instead of sitting on the dais at town hall. A longtime local pastor was not behind the pulpit, but instead in his volunteer fireman’s uniform next to the fire truck and a Banner Elk policeman was not in his police uniform, but instead attired as Captain America,” Swinkola said.

For Banner Elk, it was certainly a great event to bring people together from all over the High Country in the quaint little mountain town.

“It was a great event, the town was really pleased with it and we hope to make it bigger and better each year,” said Nancy Owen, a staff member with the town of Banner Elk. “It was nice to see the community and the police interact together.”

Owen said that they had participation from numerous law enforcement agencies around Avery and Watauga counties, including the Banner Elk, Sugar Mountain, Seven Devils and Newland Police Departments as well as Avery and Watauga County Sheriff Departments, Boone Police Department, North Carolina Forest Service Rangers and the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

“We had law enforcement officers from all over the area and fire departments attend. It was great for the children and everyone to see them in a different setting than normal,” said Allen Bolick, a Banner Elk Town Councilman.

Several children also had the special opportunity to see what a K9 member of the police force can do.

“My daughter really liked the apprehension and obedience routine of Boone’s K9, Simba,” said resident Tim Holloman.

Holloman, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Banner Elk, is also involved with the local Banner Elk Scout Troop 807 and they were in attendance to answer questions about scouting as part of their Citizenship in the Community activities.

For more information about National Night Out, please visit natw.org.

Photos by Jim Swinkola