Although summer is winding down, organizers of a pair of upcoming block parties are hoping to keep the fun going.
On September 10, residents of Hampton, Walker, Dunke and James streets as well as parts of Church Street and Snyder Avenue in Elmira are invited to the annual block party hosted by Randy Smith and his next-door neighbours on Hampton Street.
The event, which started more than 20 years ago, has seen some adjustments through the pandemic and one cancellation due to lightning, however it is still going strong, Smith said.
“It created a situation where the block group are fairly well known – most of us know each other – and then the new folks coming in, as we have recently had quite a few. It’s a great time for them to get to know people instantly, spend an evening with them and make some connections. Moving forward, we want to keep doing that every year. It just keeps getting stronger, on average 80 people,” he said.
What grew out of desire to help his in-laws get to know the neighbours has left a lasting impression on former residents of the block, Smith said.
“We’ve had people come back from as far as Nova Scotia just for the block party. Everyone’s always invited to our block party who are a member of the block or past members of the block. We didn’t want to make it exclusive, but we couldn’t accommodate not knowing how many people are going to show up,” he said.
Smith said he hopes to inspire other communities in Elmira to host their own event.
“Our biggest hope is that we can instil that seed there so they’re saying… ‘pick a day.’ Just say ‘come on over’ and arrange to have it in a backyard or a park if possible. ‘It’s in the neighbourhood where we live, we can make it happen with a couple of yards next to each other,” he said.
Also on September 10, the Elmira Pentecostal Assembly will be celebrating its 101st anniversary with a block party of their own from 2-7 p.m. outside their church building at 290 Arthur St. S.
“We obviously couldn’t celebrate last year, our 100th, so we wanted to do something for the community just to celebrate them being with us for the last 101 years,” said children’s pastor Kim Lapier.
The event will include inflatables, cotton candy, a classic car show, popcorn, carnival games, freezies, a historical walk through, and food trucks. Everything is free of charge with the exception of food truck items.
“Anyone can come…we just want to bless our community and provide a place for them to have some fun and connect,” Lapier added.
The church’s celebration will continue with a special service the following day at 10:30 a.m.