MARGATE – The Margate-Longport Municipal Alliance held its annual barbecue Friday, Oct. 4 in the Eugene A. Tighe Middle School athletic field. Hundreds of students, parents and grandparents attended the festive event, which is designed to show that there’s lots of fun to be had without drugs and alcohol.

Teacher Veronica Valencia, who has been Alliance coordinator for the last 21 years, said the fifth annual event is just one of the ways the Alliance hits home the message that fun and drugs don’t mix.

“We hold this event to show that the community, police, firefighters, teachers, administrators all support our children’s efforts to stay free of negative behaviors,” she said. “We try to give them positive messages and provide parents with information about how to talk to their children about drugs and alcohol.”

The barbecue featured hot dogs, hamburgers and all the accoutrements, along with lots of physical activities, a DJ, raffle and more.

“We want the kids to see what a tight community we have here in Margate to let them know everyone cares about them. It’s also a great way to kick-off the new school year,” she said.

The barbecue is just one of the drug and alcohol prevention programs for children in the Margate City schools funded through the Municipal Alliance. The schools also offer the Forest Friends puppet program for first-graders, “Dodging Drugs” dodgeball tournament, and LEAD (Law Enforcement Against Drugs) for students in grades five and eight.

“There are two different curricula for the appropriate grade levels,” Valencia said about the LEAD program, which replaced the old DARE program. “The ‘Too Good for Drugs’ program is for fifth graders, while the content is more mature for eighth-graders going into high school who have to deal with peer pressure.”