The idea originated from my friend Bob. He started a parade years ago in San Diego (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw_x0qtedPo&list=UUs2hN5kzVkZFvai6I3VqpTw&index=12&feature=plcp) and it now is THE thing to do on New Year's Day. It started with his family only - and now thousands come to be together. I figured if Bob can do it so can we!
My creative and smart wife drew up 4 signs (they included a bat, a pumpkin and the essential info) and I was charged with putting them in areas that neighbors would see them. So 2 went by the park that we were starting the parade from, and the other 2 went down in the neighborhood on some trafficy intersections. We crossed our fingers as we sent out an email to about 12 families letting them know about our crazy idea. People or not, we were starting a parade!
I guess the signs worked. Over 100 people showed up! As of 5 minutes before start time, there were 4 of us. Needless to say - we thought our parade was going to be small and short. However, they just kept coming. And coming. And smiling! Kids were laughing, grandparents were happy and parents were excited. It was such a great moment - the whole neighborhood, ranging from 8 weeks old to over 80 years old, came out in full force to join the parade.
We walked a few blocks, talked to as many people we could and enjoyed the fall foliage in our quaint neighborhood. The stories evolved. I met one neighbor who said she was longing for community within our neighborhood and was hoping someone would organize something. She loved the parade and meeting new friends! I met another family who had adopted a 7 year old boy who was looking for friends. He ended up leading the parade with other kids. It is amazing what the power of community does. It galvanizes people and creates something that no one can take away.
I announced the crowd that this parade will be happening every year - 5pm at Fairmount Park on 10/31. Everyone said they'd be back. I can't wait for next year already - this could be huge!
The power of community is strong. What can you do to fan the flame? Does it mean inviting those neighbors you've never met over for coffee? Does it mean starting a parade? Does it mean starting something else? You tell me!
Until next time, go out on a limb. 100 people might just show up.