For more than a decade, Randy Smith and the Hampton Neighbourhood Block Party planning committee have invited their neighbours to say hello and get to know each other.
This year marks the 15th party for the neighbourhood, and he says it is just too good to pass up.
“We have too much fun to not have it again,” he said. “For families in the area, it is very important. My kids have grown up and gone off to school, but I think that this is one of the best ways to be a community. We all know each other and it gives new neighbours a chance to get to know everybody as well.”
At the risk of sounding exclusive, Smith says the party isn’t for everyone in town. Instead, he wants other neighbourhoods in the area to follow the Hampton Street example and organize their own parties.
“We are hoping, and every year I say this, that this will inspire others to sit and get to know their own neighbours,” he said, adding that he and the committee are here to help. “If anybody has any interest in doing something like this in their neighbourhood, we want to remind them that it costs nothing to attend. We want this to expand to other venues and get everybody to have a great time.”
The Hampton Neighbourhood Block Party brings out the families that live in the area between Snyder Avenue South and Walker Street and from Church Street down to James Street over to Smith’s house for an evening of games, charity, dinner, drinks and a movie projected onto a big screen. There will also be live music provided by his neighbours, the Walker Street Band.
The group usually gets around 70 people at their block party and the committee chooses a charity to support every year. This year, money raised from their donation jars and 50/50 draw will be going towards the newly planned Elmira splash pad, slated for Bolender Park. They also collect all the bottles from the party and exchange them for cash.
The block party is a huge draw, even for those that have long moved out of the neighbourhood.
“We have had people come from as far as Nova Scotia who moved out there and came back for the Block Party. We have people coming back from retiring in Kincardine and Goderich,” said Smith.
This year, the night-ending movie hasn’t been picked quite yet, but Smith already has the popcorn required ready to go.
“We used to buy popcorn for this, but the guy has gone out of business, so I went to the Royal Bank branch on Church Street because they have that popcorn machine and I asked if we could rent it,” he said, adding that the party really brings the community together. “They said we could just come pick it up. It is all for the kids when we watch the movies.”
The party starts up at 5 p.m. on Sept. 10 at 32/34 Dunke Street, and Smith asks that anyone who doesn’t live in the Hampton neighbourhood to give him a call before coming to check out the festivities. He can be reached at 519-669-8239.