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Good Night Green Light | By Nathan Walls

The grass at J.P. Riddle Stadium got a shade greener on a summer Saturday night.

Sure, the Fayetteville SwampDogs still pounded out runs as vendors hawked hot dogs, cold beers and peanuts, of course. But fans also scooped up energy-saving light bulbs, canvas shopping totes and information about the city’s new curbside recycling program.

Children in the stands sported green hair and crowded around Recycler, a talking robot, at the concession stands.

The SwampDogs, Fayetteville’s hometown baseball team, has gone green.

The team mascot, Mo Runs, got into the spirit of things by trading his usual jersey for a recycling T-shirt. “He made that himself this morning,” Darrell Handelsman said. Handelsman is the team’s manager and director of operations. He said everyone from employees to players rallied around the night’s environmentally-friendly theme, an idea first developed by Jeremy Aagard, assistant general manager for the SwampDogs.

The SwampDogs even issued an invitation to former vice president Al Gore to throw the first pitch though he couldn’t attend.

And Green Night had the perfect ending – a 6-2 win against the Wilson Tobs. The victory propelled the SwampDogs above .500 and, fans hoped, a step closer to the Coastal Plain League’s Pettit Cup tournament.

Sponsors for the evening included the City of Fayetteville and Waste Management. Several businesses and groups set up tables including Cartridge World and the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. Volunteers from Fayetteville Beautiful plugged their next community cleanup, and Fayetteville’s Public Works Commission showed people how to conserve water and electricity.

They just hoped fans got the message.

“Coming out to the ballgame tonight is a wonderful way to get to a different group of folks,” said Jerry Dietzen, the city’s solid waste director. “I am just hoping that communicating with us this way will help people think more about recycling.”

Syndi Long, a Hope Mills resident, said she hopes Hope Mills and other local communities will join the curbside club. She takes her recyclables to one of 17 Cumberland County drop-off sites.

“I’m loving Green Night, I’m all about recycling,” Long said. “We try to do everything we can in our home to recycle. When we visit family in Arizona and Florida they recycle, so I’m so excited that Fayetteville is doing this. It means a big deal for our planet and to each other.”

Jeannine Carter said Green Night helped people become more aware of keeping recyclables out of the landfill, and she also wants other towns in Cumberland County to adopt curbside recycling.

“If people had something at their houses to put the recyclables in, it would inspire them to do it,” she said.”This is a concerted effort, and it will pay off in the end.”

From the windup to the delivery, Green Night seemed to be a hit.