Sponsored: A block party for the social distancing era

Sponsored: A block party for the social distancing era

The person who is looking for the bright side or the good in any situation will always find something. Take getting to know the neighbors during a pandemic, for instance.

Although residents of new-home communities enjoy the benefits of events such as farmers markets, fundraisers and holiday parties, being part of a neighborhood includes much more than big events.

Community is about connecting.

With that in mind, the New Home News column has come up with an interim idea for end-of-summer-in-a-pandemic fun. (This may be adaptable to other seasons or for monthly birthday fetes, too.)

A new twist to making friends

Let’s do this! With a few eager families to plan and communicate, the best way to end Summer 2020 may be to arrange a pandemic-era take on the block party. To make this one for the history books, all you need is some energy, enthusiasm and eagerness.

Supplies and volunteers might include a few leaders to collect neighbors’ emails and phone numbers and share event information; a small team to plan the day’s schedule of front-yard and street meals, games, music and more; a few people to collect a small dollar amount from each house and shop for game prizes.

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Also key to success will be locating the most animated neighbor(s) on the block and someone who owns a good sound system for music, announcements and game-calling.

Events, games or contests might feature:

— Three-legged races organized in heats of two sets of partners per heat, with a starter on a bullhorn or microphone and a timer to collect all participants’ times and announce— Pie eating contest (three members of each family take turns sharing the same pie)— Snack times and mealtimes: Every household brings or makes their own food and beverages and eats at scheduled times.— No-touch “tennis” or “racket volley beach ball”: Imagine the theatrics and acrobatics of volleying a small beach ball over a net in the street using badminton rackets and not being allowed to touch the ball with faces or hands? A missed or incomplete volley scores the other team a point; if someone touches the ball with their hands or face, the other team automatically wins.— Pie eating contests: Everyone orders or makes the same kind of whipped-cream and custard pie and households race each other to see who can finish first. But why not plan a three-legged race, held in heats of two groups at a time, each on one side of the street? With a stopwatch, there could be winners in a few categories — by heat, by age and overall.— Bingo games, with one in the morning and one in the evening, and players using game sheets that the activities planner emails them to print in advance.— A siesta (and midday cleanup by committee members wearing PPE) from 3 to 5 p.m.— A “masquerade barbecue” contest at 6 p.m. Each household dresses up in the costume theme of their choice. Each individual on the block votes (via web app or verbal communication) for the best-dressed household on the block.— A dance party after sunset. Someone surely can invest in a disco ball.— An all-audiences movie played on an outdoor projection screen visible from a distance by all

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With the right amount of teamwork and ingenuity, anyone can create unexpectedly special memories with new friends in a new community.

Meet the builders

Another type of happy story in the new-home world is that builders and buyers may be getting to know each other even better this year than they used to before the pandemic.

“We’re incredibly busy seeing buyers by appointment only,” says Colleen Edwards, marketing director of the River Islands master-planned community in Lathrop. “We’ve even made changes to our website because of the different ways we’re meeting with people now.”

Next, consider the fact that builders who opened new communities or phases in early 2020 may first have feared the worst, but now can’t build houses fast enough. This growth underlines the reality that every buyer in a new-home community is a newbie, eager to get to know others.

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Clearly, people still want and need those all-important visual connections. Because they are home more often than they expected to be, buyers are finding ways to connect with their neighbors more quickly, and perhaps more meaningfully, than they might have a year ago.

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