Orange is a color worn by a lot of Clemson fans in this area, but that’s not why people had on orange in The Alley in downtown Aiken on Saturday.
The reason for their bright clothing was an event called Wear Orange, which raises awareness of gun violence and gun safety.
One of the speakers was the Rev. Darlene Kelley, who is the pastor of Langley United Methodist Church.
“I’ve got a lot of hunters in my congregation and a lot of Second Amendment guys,” she said.
“This event is not about hunting or the Second Amendment. And it’s not anti-gun. It’s about kids dying in schools and shooting each other because guns aren’t locked up properly. It’s about keeping your kids away from your guns and making sure we have safety precautions so we’re not killing each other out in the streets and in schools.”
Marquis Davis, a master public safety officer with the Aiken Department of Public Safety, had free gun locks to hand out, and he also talked about gun safety.
“One of the biggest things is education,” he said. “Don’t be afraid of guns. Teach young people about them. The Second Amendment is your right; just don’t abuse it. Practice gun safety. Keep your gun pointed in a safe direction. Keep it unloaded when you’re not using it, and keep it locked in a safe place.”
The Wear Orange gun violence prevention movement began when the friends of Hadiya Pendleton started wearing the color in her honor. The 15-year-old high school honor student was shot and killed in 2013 in Chicago.
The Wear Orange event in The Alley was held after National Gun Violence Awareness Day on Friday and was part of Wear Orange Weekend, also a national effort.
Playing a key role in the organization of Wear Orange locally was Emilie DeGryse, who is the lead for the Aiken Chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
“We want to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence and how it’s affecting our children, our neighbors and our teachers,” DeGryse said.
Wear Orange in The Alley was a family-friendly event. Activities included coloring pictures, bracelet-making and a series of doughnut-eating contests.
One Beat at a Time, a drumming group, also performed.