Massachusetts: Rockin' on the Porch
Somerville, MA By Linda Carrubba
Our town has a big arts community, and there are many fun things to do. During Porch Fest, for instance, held on a Saturday in May, people play music on their porches and in their driveways. Visitors can pick up a map of participating homes. Last year, one family did "porch-i-oke": a band led by a woman on accordion played songs on request. To encourage people to join in, they printed up a book of lyrics to some of the songs they knew. Nothing says community like a group sing-along of Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know"!
Illinois: Sprinters Welcome
Bloomington, IL By Lacey Bordewick
It's approximately a quarter of a quarter of a mile from the farthest neighbor's house to our backyard. Every year in May we run the Maizefield Area Quarter-Quarter Mile, then have a fantastic neighborhood party! The first year, we made quarter-quarter T-shirts and gave out Maizey Awards for silly things like Handyman of the Year(s) -- given to the neighbor whose basement remodeling project took longer than his wife would have liked. The second year, we had a Beatles-themed "Band on the Run" quarter-quarter. Everyone wore Beatles T-shirts, and at the party we ate Yellow Submarine Sandwiches, Strawberry Fields Fruit Salad, and Maxwell's Mac-and-cheese. Last year, we made new shirts that said, "I thought they said 'rum'!" After the race we celebrated with Rum Runners for the grown-ups and face painting for the kids. This year, we went with a chocolate-themed quarter-quarter!
Connecticut: Backyard Campout Party
Manchester, CT By Mindy Burke
We live in a great neighborhood. We have book clubs, Girls' Nights In (and Out), game nights, pool parties, Oscar parties, and ice-skating on our backyard ice rink. This past Labor Day, we invited neighborhood families to camp out in our backyard. The kids played games, and after dark, we all watched a movie in our garage. In the morning, we had a potluck breakfast. It was a huge success, and we plan to make it an annual tradition.
Pennsylvania: Bonfire of the Christmas Trees
Carlisle, PA By Christine Sparages
A week or so into January, everyone in our neighborhood seemed to be experiencing the post-Christmas blues. It was cold and dreary, with nothing special to look forward to. My husband came up with the idea of hosting a "Burning of the Christmas Trees." A few days ahead of time, I sent a note to my neighbors inviting them to drag their trees over for a bonfire. My husband set up a safe burning area in our snow-dusted backyard (and we had a fire extinguisher handy, just in case). We set up a second, smaller fire pit for the kids to toast marshmallows for s'mores. One by one, the trees went up in smoke. The kids loved watching the fire and listening to the crackling sounds the trees made. We even got out sparklers and fireworks left over from the summer. It may have been 20 degrees outside, but our neighborhood was happy and warm.