PILOT MOUNTAIN — Pilot Mountain caught a break from the weather on Tuesday evening as rainstorms circled all around the town but left downtown skies clear for the annual National Night Out event.
“We’ve been doing this for 12 years,” said Police Chief Darryl Bottoms as he cooked hundreds of hot dogs on an enormous grill in the town hall parking lot.
“We started in ’07 when I got started as chief. It’s a great opportunity for people to come out and see all the agencies.”
Bottoms said that for a lot of people, having an interaction with law enforcement only happens when they’re having a bad day.
“But today, you can speak with us, interact with us, in a relaxed atmosphere. I like cooking,” Bottoms said, taking a dozen or so hot dogs off the grill and replacing them with a dozen more.
“This is a great opportunity for the community to come out and see our sponsors. Mount Airy Police Department, Surry County Sheriff’s Department, Pilot Knob Fire Department, Surry County Communications, N.C. Wildlife, they’re all here. The (Pilot Mountain) Rescue Squad was here, but they had a call. We always have a good turnout.”
A steady stream of folks came into the town hall parking lot, helped themselves to free hot dogs and sodas, and then checked out the night’s attractions. Donna Pruett, who said she was better known as The Balloon Lady, sculpted balloons into swords. Under an adjacent awning, Face Painting Maria, or Maria Saldarriaga, painted the young folks’ faces.
Mount Airy’s community policing officers, Gerald Daniel and Stacy Inman, had set up a course outlined in small orange cones for kids to navigate with a pedal car they’d brought along.
“Those are my Explorers,” said Daniel. “They are kids interested in law enforcement. Explorers is open to boys and girls. They hang out with officers. We teach them about careers in law enforcement, and they help us out at special events.”
The next day, the Explorers were helping out the department with rapid deployment training.
“They help the department a lot,” added Daniel. “When they turn 18, they can go on a ride-along. We have one who became an officer after aging out at 21.”
Deputy Chad Hutchens, a school resource officer for the Sheriff’s Department, said his job comes under community policing. “That’s what brings us out.”
Sponsors for National Night Out included Food Lion, Nationwide, Surry Telephone, Red Stripe, Aunt Bea’s, Cousin Gary’s and Hardees. Drew Pell provided music.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.