Last month’s Home Days, presented for the 21st year and for the first time without large-scale rides, was a success all the way around, city officials said last week.
“I heard nothing but compliments on the new approach for this year,” Councilman William I. Russo said.
Councilman Robert Shimits congratulated Mayor Edward H. Kraus on the new “Home Days experiment” without rides.
“I was very impressed,” Mr. Shimits said. “I heard more accolades than not.
“I think it was a wonderful event.”
“Everyone I talked to had good comments on it and felt it was more of a family event,” Councilman Douglas A. Magill said.
“Home Days was phenomenal,” added Councilwoman Nancy E. Meany. She said Community Center Manager Rich Parker’s vision for a community block party “really came to life.”
Presented over three days last month as a large-scale community block party for friends and neighbors to gather, the event was extremely successful, Mr. Parker said last week.
“Leading up to Home Days, I could not have imagined a better response from the community than I received,” Mr. Parker said. “I was really pleasantly surprised.”
The “vibe” of the event was more about the community, Mr. Parker continued. There was plenty of space to move around and for friends and neighbors to congregate.
While the overall attendance was down in comparison with past years, “we really hit the community block vibe, which was our goal.
“Every year, we use this sound bite ‘come meet your neighbors,’ and there was no year than it was truer than this year,” Mr. Parker said.
There were some challenges to overcome and room for improvement, he added, including in the area of seating. Next year, people will be encouraged to bring a lawn chair or a picnic blanket for the large grassy areas.
Also, food trucks will be open throughout the three days. This year, they were not in place Friday. People do come to events such as this for food, Mr. Parker noted.
Next year, there also will be more entertainment, he said. “We are challenged by set up and break down times,” he said. “We are looking at ways to minimize downtime where there is not music playing.”
Next year will be the same format as this year with the block party, Mr. Parker noted, “although we always have to keep our ear to the ground” to hear resident’s needs and feedback.
Mayor Kraus said he often cringed when he would hear that Home Days was the same “because that’s the way we always have done it.
“That is the exact opposite way I approach things,” the mayor explained. The rides would often draw people from outside of the community.
“Maybe we wanted our community to show up,” he said of the new thought process that began last year.
At this year’s event, he saw multiple strollers and the art show and festival was “amazing.
“The food trucks added a lot, and people saw neighbors they hadn’t seen in months or years,” he said.