Inspired by his friends and family members in law enforcement, Oconee County resident Lee Dyer had the idea to show his appreciation by creating the event to honor their legacies.
“There's so little that people do for them,” Dyer said at the 1st Annual Night of Blue Lights.
He explained that the idea stemmed from a dream he had in November. Even though friends joked that it wouldn't come to fruition, Dyer said he brought his idea to the Oconee County Sheriff's Office and made it happen.
“He wanted to do something; it just grew,” said Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry. “This was his brainchild and I'm very proud of it.”
“To me, it's all about the survivors,” said Roger Parker, executive director of the Georgia chapter of COPS.
Parker said Georgia ranks fourth in the nation for the highest number of fallen officers. Ten of Georgia's finest fell in the line of duty in 2010 – the most since 2005.
“When I see the general community come out like this...it's just heartwarming to see them come give back,” he said.
Watkinsville resident Nancy McReynolds said she brought her children, ages 2 and 4, “to support the community and give back to the people that are protecting us.”
Exploring the fire trucks, watching the K9 demonstrations and jumping in inflatables were just icing on the cake, she said.
Sitting in lawn chairs and chatting with friends, Allen and Terri Carter displayed vintage vehicles for the public to enjoy.
“Just trying to help out as best we can,” said Allen, adding that he hoped the cars stirred additional interest in the event.
The Carters, Oconee County residents for more than 40 years, brought a teal 1955 Chevrolet Station Wagon and a purple 1941 Willys for display.
Officers came from surrounding counties to participate in the event, display their cars to the public and answer questions. Representatives came to Oconee County from Porterdale, Dawson, Athens and Walton, among other cities.
The event's highlight, literally, came just after 7 p.m. when the officers simultaneously turned on their blue lights in memory of the fallen officers.
“Everybody that has donated a dollar has helped,” Dyer said just before the parking lot turned into a sea of blue and white lights. “Let's see some blue lights.”
Parker said he wasn't certain exactly how much the benefit raised for COPS, but the sight of attendees dropping bills into the donation jar in honor of the fallen officers spoke for itself.