Over 260 neighbours gathered at George McLean Park in central Burnaby to celebrate the summer solstice and to get to know each other on Saturday, June the 21st at the community`s inaugural Block Party. Organizers gained financial support for bringing the community together by applying for a small grant from the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. The grant provided seed money for food, supplies and some light entertainment. All were amazed by the turnout, which included a large number of seniors, young families and supporters from posAbilities. As the saying goes – ‘a good time was had by all,’ while also bringing about a sizeable donation for the local food bank from party guests.
The idea for a block party began with a collaboration between Caroline Dagg and Monique Nelson, who both live in the same neighbourhood as Craig, Jason and Dennis, persons served through Altesse House. As the idea took root, the organizing team grew to include Tammy Kirk, Tianna Wattum, everyone’s respective family members and another neighbour, Amanda.
The organizers reached out to all neighbours, including residents in several local housing developments, faith groups, schools and preschools, businesses and service organizations, as well as to entertainers who were ‘friends of friends’ or family members. The potluck picnic format was perfect for a crowd of any size, and the music and entertainment were enjoyed by kids of all ages.
On the big day, the sun came out and guests arrived on site early, eager to dig into lunch, and hungry for community. Hundreds of people came throughout the afternoon with their arms filled with potluck items, lawn chairs and food bank donations. It was wonderful to see and a rewarding for all involved. Seniors and neighbours within a few blocks radius of the popular park enjoyed the tasty treats, live music, games, hanging out and the sheer joy of watching what seemed like hundreds of tiny tots playing all around.
Monique Nelson commented that several people came up to her with ideas and suggestions for next year – the fact that the success would be repeated was assumed!
The event volunteers were awesome! Our thanks to Sari Wattum (music and floating to wherever needed), Amy Chan (face painting, hooking us up with a balloon artist), Caroline’s niece Sadaf and ‘the kids’ who postered the area, and many other staff members, family members and persons served who came out to join us.
We also would like to thank and acknowledge the support of the South Burnaby Neighbourhood House. Great things happen when we all work together!