It was the muggy afternoon of Saturday, June 24, under a sky of building clouds and warm breeze when over 60 members of all ages residing in the Mt Ida Crescent community gathered for a Block Party to meet neighbours, socialize and foster a sense of community fellowship. The party was enhanced with the generous financial support from Neighbourhood Small Grants North Okanagan and Community Foundation North Okanagan, who provide grants to bring community projects to life.

The event started at 4:30pm in the cul-de-sac of the crescent, where tables overflowed with everyone’s Potluck contributions. The sharing of each household’s specialty was better than any catered affair, with the added bonus of shared recipes and workload. There were many different roles to play in the successful execution of the event, with many community members stepping up to organize the different facets of the party including planning, preparation, entertainment and clean-up.

The large contingent of children under the age of 12 were engaged by the talents of Kiki the Eco Elf, a local children’s entertainer, who sang, created balloon animals, and face painted with the added advantage of freeing up the parents to visit with their neighbours.

To add adventure and sugar-energy-burning entertainment, there was a photo scavenger hunt made up of locations around the neighbourhood, with teams made up of younger children assisted by the older kids. The kids loved running around to find the places to fill their scavenger hunt pages and win prizes! The kids also had a giant water fight and rode their bikes all through the neighbourhood.

With the kids occupied, the adults were able to connect, socialize, and form friendships. Because the community was only established in 2018 and welcomes new residents as homes are completed, there are many residents who are new to both the crescent as well as the greater Coldstream/Vernon area. The Block Party provided an opportunity to share insights into our community such as volunteer opportunities, favourite local specialty stores, book recommendations, and school supports. There was also a chance for different households to connect to problem solve local issues (e.g. how to deal with pests), share resources (exchanging tools, areas of expertise, babysitting), and offers to watch and maintain homes and yards for neighbours who plan to be away on vacation.

The event was well attended considering the busy time of year (the end of school, camping season and wrap up of spring activities), and agreed by everyone to be an excellent social gathering to foster our sense of community. Knowing our neighbours has helped us to look out for each other, problem solve, feel safer and connected.

We are very grateful to the Neighbourhood Small Grants North Okanagan and Community Foundation North Okanagan for providing us with funding for our community’s Block Party. Because the feeling of connection didn’t end when the party was over – it grew into greetings on the sidewalk, catch ups at the park, planning group biking and hiking trips and future events with our new friends. Magic happens when neighbours connect.

Project Leader: Erin Fetterly

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