Cedrow celebrates National Night Out in style
Families gathered at Oakview Elementary School Tuesday in a swarm of activity. From what originally started as a small community-watch group, the Cedrow Association has turned National Night Out into a full-blown event.
Equipped with a health fair, local vendor booths, food and live entertainment, the celebration in the Cedrow community draws a crowd of nearly 1,500 people every year, said Neighborhood Association President William Strickland.
"We try to bring a little excitement to the community with live entertainment," Strickland said. "We started as a small group from Cedrow and it just started expanding when people became aware of what was going on in our neighborhood, like burglaries, drugs, gangs. We all grew up around here and it never used to be like that. We don't want anyone to come in and take over our neighborhood."
For over the past 5 years, community members have come together with law enforcement officers, firemen and City Council members to celebrate the safety of their neighborhood. The Cedrow Neighborhood Association consists of Cedrow Drive, Arlington Street and Camden and Biltmore Avenues. Imani Pemberton, a junior from High Point Central High School, began the celebration by singing the National Anthem. Pemberton has performed at many other local events in the past, including the Shaun Coltrane Festival on Washington Street.
“We’re here today to show our support for the police department, fire department, sheriff’s department and the community at large,” Strickland said to the crowd just before introducing the night’s first performers.
This year, the Style Light Dancers from the Just Dance Studio off E. Lexington Ave. performed. Dancers from all different age groups danced hip-hop style for the audience. A local DJ performed along with hip-hop gospel singer William Stokes, also known as “Quiet Storm.”
The firemen of Station No. 11 also brought their fire truck out for kids to explore.
Reserve Officer Joey Guthrie retired from the High Point Police Department over 13 years ago and has served as reserve officer since. He and fellow police officers made the rounds Tuesday, going to different neighborhoods participating in the nationwide celebration and meeting with community members.
“What they’ve done is have us come out and listen to people’s problems and be officer friendly,” Guthrie said. “Normally we’re the last people want to see but it helps to connect with the community. We don’t normally get to see them (other neighborhood residents). The people we deal with don’t come to these things.”
“We go out and visit and sometimes stay until they’re cleaning up,” Community Officer Robert Burchette added.
BBQ Joe’s provided dinner at the event while Philip's Funeral Home provided the entertainment, both catering for free as sponsors for the event.
Strickland has worked for Thomas Built Buses for over 30 years but he spends his free time staying active in the community. He participates in various activities at Oak Hill Elementary, volunteering time to the basketball team, backpack program at the school and the reading program, all which are geared toward improving health, hunger and literacy at the school, among other community activities.
And it is because of his consistent volunteering he is able to make the connection to others who enjoy volunteering their time to good causes.
“We stay pretty active,” Strickland said. “We volunteer for Parks and Recreation, Oak Hill and the backpack programs. It keeps you, you, it keeps you young and you feel so much better going to sleep at night. I’m passionate about my community and we try to help the kids out.”
Everything at the event, including free hair cuts, ice cream and snow cones, was volunteered. For the past three years in a row, the Cedrow Association has earned All-Star from the organization that began National Night Out making it the largest and most entertaining in the nation.