CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The City of Charleston put on the first Friday Night Lights at Harmon Park in downtown Charleston. The pilot program is a chance for kids and teenagers to spend time with one another as well as police officers and firefighters.
The rules of football dominated the field Friday night, but city officials say the rules in life is what Friday Night Lights is all about.
"Being a team player, being responsible, having the same goals in mind to accomplish whatever that goal may be, " says Thomas Spigner, a youth sports coordinator for the City of Charleston. "
"You have to make choices, and we want them to make the right choices so that we don't run into them in another way down the road, " says police chief Greg Mullen.
City officials say they selected neighborhoods where young people are at a higher risk for drugs and violence. Kids say they want and need more nights like these.
"This is very positive. We need some more stuff like this in the neighborhood so all the children can stay away from all the crime and stuff and everything else, but I think this is a really good start right here."
"A lot of killing going down right now, and it's good for kids to come out here and play with each other."
Police chief Greg Mullen says they want young people to spend time with some of their greatest allies, law enforcement.
"Building trust in the communities, developing relationships with people," says Mullen. "While we certainly have to enforce the law, the other part of our job is to make sure the community knows that we are here to help them."
"They get to see them in a different light," says Spigner. "They get to establish a rapport with the kids. The kids don't see them as a person always coming in to prevent crime."
There are five more "Friday Night Lights " during the summer. The events are free and no registration is required.
The program will be held at 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the dates and at the sites listed below:
• June 28 – W.L. Stephens Aquatics Center and Forest Park at 780 West Oak Forest Drive
• July 12 - Westchester Park at 1443 Secessionville Road
• July 19 - Martin Luther King Pool and Martin Park at 155 Jackson Street
• July 26 - Herbert Hasell Pool and Harmon Park
• August 2 - Martin Luther King Pool and Martin Park