Bunting in abundance – it must be a street party!

There’s nothing like good old fashioned community spirit – and it can be found in abundance at a typical Winchester street party.

Last weekend saw Fairfield Road don the bunting for their biennial celebration, and the Hampshire Chronicle reported residents of Cathedral View gathering for the fifth year running to commemorate a former resident.  These are not uncommon events, particularly in Winchester, but they are not widely advertised as they are very much for people ‘in the know’.  With everyone living such busy lives, they can be a great way to meet your neighbours, get people interested in the local area, form friendships and help each other out.

We asked Fairfield Road resident, Wendy Kilminster how it worked in her street:

“We had a new committee of volunteers this year who all worked jolly hard to arrange a great event, with guidance from the lovely couple who thought up the idea originally and who had arranged all the previous parties.  The vast majority of the street came and even those who didn’t, kindly supported the event by moving their cars, helping with the tidy up etc.

“There were plenty of family-focused activities, from face-painting and biscuit decorating to fancy dress parades, a kids disco, Stomp, and the joys of being able to play in the street with no traffic! For the adults there was a bar, a Scouts BBQ, two live bands (our very own musical residents!), and a raffle with prizes all donated by local businesses. One of the highlights was the Street Toast – to the oldest and youngest resident, which this year was around 90 years and two days old!  It was great to see the effort people put into decorating their houses and even trying to outdo each other with their table decorations – all in good spirit of course.”

Wendy summed it up: “The street party always has a real ‘freshers’ feel to it where everybody talks to everyone.  The children get to play in the road and in and out of each other houses.  I’m sure it’s one of the reasons why the road has such a friendly, community feel – and that community feel is certainly a big reason why our next move is only one street away.  Fingers crossed we’ll get a guest invite for next time!” 

So how do you go about organising a street party?

It only takes one or two keen residents to get the momentum going and start with the arrangements. Street parties can happen for any occasion and don’t need a special reason – just getting everyone together is a good enough excuse and most people are happy to participate.  Most importantly, ensure everyone is invited and aware of the arrangements so that the whole street feels part of the event.  It is relatively straightforward to ask the council to close the road for a day but remember to apply for this early – it can take from 3 to 12 weeks to get approval.

It is usual practice to charge a nominal amount for tickets to residents and guests.  Proceeds go to arranging things like public liability insurance, which is required by the Council and the hire of trestle tables, bouncy castles etc to ensure no one is out of pocket.  In St Faith’s Road a couple of years ago, the event was such a success that residents had enough ticket money left over to donate to the parish hall and support the much-needed church roof fund. It just shows, a bit of community spirit can go a long way!