By Judy L. Marchman
Even though Labor Day is just around the corner and the kids are heading back to school, that doesn’t mean we have to let go of that summer feeling just yet. One of the great things about summer is getting outside and interacting with other residents while you do yard work, take a stroll around the neighborhood or hold the annual block party.
If you live in a newer community, though, it may be more difficult to get to know those around you and enjoy that neighborly spirit. That’s where holding a fun neighborhood event or two can help. And it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money.
My neighborhood held its first annual End of Summer Celebration recently to give residents, many who had just moved in this year, a chance to get together and get to know each other a little better. The event was held at our community’s pool and playground area, but a nearby area park would serve just as well if your community doesn’t include a pool.
Our community’s resident HOA board member headed up the event with the help of our “social” committee. Communication with residents was made easy through the use of social media and apps like Nextdoor, allowing for updates and reminders on the event.
Residents also volunteered their time and talents for the event — one neighbor put his DJ skills on display by providing music for the event — while others helped by contacting nearby restaurants or businesses about participating or donating services. Depending on how much your HOA has budgeted for community events, it might be able to cover certain expenses. In our case, our HOA provided barbecue from a neighborhood restaurant.
We also had an ice cream truck on site with $2 cones all day, plus face painting for kids of all ages, and the area YMCA donated a one-month membership to be raffled off.
Neighborhood Movie Nights
Another way to bring neighbors together is with a community movie night. It doesn’t have to be confined to just summer. Depending on what part of the country you’re in, this could be done all year long or if your community has a clubhouse for indoor events. Some equipment rental might be needed, unless you have tech-savvy residents who keep a big screen stashed in their garage just waiting for the perfect occasion to use it. You can organize a community potluck to go with the event or grab some big bags of popcorn from the local grocery to parcel out during the movie.
Neighborhood Safety Events
Keeping your neighborhood safe is of paramount importance to all residents. That’s where a solid neighborhood watch program comes in. Neighborhood safety events can help residents get to know each other better as well as help in organizing a neighborhood watch program.
You can do this on an informal basis by bringing in representatives from the police to talk about how to conduct a watch program as well as to talk to residents, especially kids, about safety issues, such as watching for speeding cars, what to do when approached by strangers, and so on. Or your neighborhood can participate in the National Night Out — my community has done this for the past few years — which is a great way for residents and local law enforcement and emergency workers to connect.
Similarly, you can contact your local fire department to come and talk to residents about fire safety. This can be an especially fun event for kids. When my community held this event, our local fire department brought one of their fire engines for the kids to climb on and explore, as well as the ever-popular plastic red firefighter hats.
Getting to know your neighbors can be a rewarding experience and brings your community closer together, so why not make it a party?