NC firefighters, police officers to battle in kickball match
Officials planned to provide residents a way to get to know their local emergency responders on a more relaxed level
Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.
GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — When the average person comes in contact with a police officer or firefighter, it often involves a situation that's stressful, and sometimes even contentious.
In one growing Gaston County town, an event is being planned to lighten up that interaction, and provide residents a way to get to know their local emergency responders on a more relaxed level.
"It's really about trying to get the citizenry acquainted with our police officers and firefighters in something other than an emergency situation," said Wendy Cauthen, who is helping to spearhead the Battle of the Badges event next month in Cramerton.
The use of the word "battle" is just a tad grandiose, though both intentionally and playfully. It will amount to a no-holds-barred kickball contest between Cramerton's police officers and firefighters, with the community turning out to be entertained by the competition. It will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 13 at the C.B. Huss Recreation Center in Cramerton.
After the game, there will be a 'meet and greet,' allowing residents to interact with the men and women who serve and protect them.
Cauthen, the wife of Cramerton Mayor Will Cauthen, said the idea sprang to her recently based on memories of her youth.
"I grew up up north where we did a lot of firemen's field days, and I was thinking about those being a big part of my childhood," she said. "It was basically an event where they'd go out and have a tug of war and other classic events."
She huddled with Eunice McSwain, the special events coordinator for Cramerton's parks and recreation department, and they devised the kickball game as a way to 'kick' that idea off here.
"It's been fun to watch the two departments get excited about it," she said. "We're trying to come up with a lot of different things that will make it fun for everyone. There may be some surprises that you wouldn't typically see at a kickball game."
There will plenty of substitutions, as the fire department has some 22 players, and the police department will have 16 to 20.
Cramerton is the last town where someone would think of a combative relationship existing between residents and law enforcement officers. But that's a positive aspect that it only makes sense to build upon, Cauthen said.
"Even if you've never met our police officers, we want you to, so if you see them on the street you're not afraid to smile and talk to them," she said. "We are a growing town, and that's great because we're getting a lot of new stuff, but we want to keep some of that small-town feel, and part of that has to do with your police department."
But beyond the cheery exterior of the event, it will be a legitimate competition, and one that will be entertaining to watch, Cauthen said.
"There is a trophy," she said. "So there is pride on the line."
You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or on Twitter @GazetteMike.
©2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.