After years of talking about and dreaming about building community in our neighborhood, we finally made it happen. We have always wanted to host something in our driveway for Halloween. Roasting hot dogs and inviting neighbors over was our goal. There are a few neighbors we have gotten close to over the years who will attend a birthday party or that we chat with out on the street on a regular basis. But we wanted to extend our reach. We didn't want just individual relationships but instead to create a feeling of community.
We went door to door a few nights before inviting every single neighbor on our street to come by on Halloween night. We called it Halloween, Hotdogs, and Hellos, inviting neighbors to grab a hotdog, show off their costume, and simply say hello and meet new neighbors. They were welcome to come and go between their Halloween festivities as we would be hanging out all night for them to simply stop by.
What I found key to all of this was that we congregated in our driveway on a night people would already be out on the streets. People did not have to fully commit to coming inside for hours. Instead they could feel it out and move on when they wanted. This took away a large intimidation factor that can come with entertaining.
Neighbors came by along with a few friends and family. We roasted hotdogs and marshmallows on the fire pit and gave out candy to trick or treaters.
We opened up conversation with extended neighbors that lived down the street. They hung out by the fire pit and commented on how they saw us setting up on their way home from work or how a few summers ago they watched us build our picket fence.
Because we live on a fairly busy residential corner, we are familiar faces to those who live in our neighborhood. Even if you never meet a person but see them on a regular basis, sometimes you feel you know someone as you watch them come and go from their home. We bridged that gap by allowing people to come by and say hello for the first time. Much like hosting our yearly yard sale, you meet your neighbors by spending time in your front yard.
Two doors down our other neighbors were giving out popcorn and set up a much spookier scene in their front yard. Between our fire pit and movie and our neighbor's popcorn, one trick or treater told me this was the best Halloween street ever. You could say I was pretty proud at that moment. Mission accomplished.
Near the end of the night it started to rain. And really it poured. A few of our neighbors were still over so we huddled close together under the easy-up, giggling at the craziness of being in the middle of a sudden storm, and finished up watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.
A few older trick or treaters that were still out later in the night got poured on, so a welcoming fire and heater allowed them to warm up before finishing off the last of their trick or treating. They would literally run to us from the main street. It was really fun.
It has taken us five years to finally get to this place. One, to have the courage to host this but two, to also have started a foundation with our neighbors. They have seen us here for years, waved hi when they drove by, and became familiar faces. There is a level of trust and familiarity that only comes with time.
Though I would consider this year a success, only about half our street came by. I imagine that it will take doing this for a few more years before some of our neighbors can sense that same trust to come by. And that is okay. Because taking five years to get where we are was worth the wait. And it amazes me to think if we were busier or less intentional, we could never know our neighbors.
We live in a community where families are here for the long haul. We desire to invest and get to know them in a way that enriches our neighborhood and our home. And though we have our own dream home ideas of more land and a bigger house, you cannot buy community and kind neighbors. That in itself may determine if this is our forever house. So we will make the most of what has been given to us and build community wherever we have been planted.