The togetherness is a little more figurative this year, but the hotdogs are still very much real.
Free Hotdog Thursdays were launched last year by Woolwich Community Services (WCS) as way to the community to come together over the summer. It was a way to offer the community a chance to socialize with friends and neighbours while enjoying a free lunch.
Despite social distancing measures and limits on gatherings this time around, WCS has brought the event back this year so people are able to get out and drop by for a snack one hour each week.
The second annual hotdog Thursday event kicked off July 9 around the side of the WCS building at 5 Memorial Ave. From 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. residents came out and lined up at a safe social distance to get their free hotdog – meat or vegetarian – and a drink.
Leigh-Anne Quinn, community engagement co-ordinator with WCS, says the inspiration to start this really was about bringing the community together and this is something they hope to continue for years to come.
“The event is hosted and run by WCS, but it’s funded by deferred money we received from [the] 100 Woolwich Women Who Care group. And so last year was our first year. And our goal is really to give people a fun place to go for free, and to build community while breaking bread with each other,” said Quinn.“This year, we’re offering only a grab-and-go format due to the COVID-19 pandemic and, of course, we’re practicing social distancing.”
Quinn says last year they saw between 55 and 75 and it’s expected that those numbers will continue throughout the entirety of the run.
Last year, tables and chairs were offered to those who wanted to take a seat and enjoy their hotdog in the sunshine, however, COVID-19 is making that not possible at the moment. Quinn says they are taking their guidelines from public heath on the matter, so if things change a place to commune may be added in the future. This year the event has added a misting station so people waiting in line can get a little respite from the heat.
People coming by also drop off donations – although they are not asking for them during the course of this event.
Free Hotdog Thursdays runs every week – with the exception of August 6 when they host their annual youth centre barbecue – until the end of August.