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Neighbours Day celebrations rock Kitchener

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Live music, food, and an overwhelming sense of community took over the streets of Kitchener for a special celebration.

Neighbours Day returned to city streets under a bright blue sky on Saturday, giving residents a chance to meet their neighbours and celebrate the spirit of togetherness.

Local musicians spread out across the city, playing on porches, sidewalks, and driveways to help encourage people to step outside and enjoy the day.

“Neighbours Day stated in 2015,” Kitchener’s Manager of Community Centres Tegan McKenna said. “We had to shift it quite significantly throughout the pandemic and transform it into what you see today. We’re proud to feature 100 community events across the city featuring 50 different musicians.”

On Vintage Crescent, residents pulled out lawn furniture or camping chairs to watch as DadBand played some nostalgic hits and crowd favourites.

For that area’s organizers, the live music is just one of the many big draws of the day.

“We started out on the street as a potluck,” co-host Lisa McIvor said. “We had a barbeque on the street and then we evolved and got more seating, a food truck, more live music.”

People taking part in the event were able to freely stroll along the crescent, easily crossing between homes thanks to a barricade limiting access to the road.

“My son says it’s his favourite day of the year because he actually gets to play in the street. They get to run around and ride their bikes up and down the street and there are no cars,” co-host Krystal Poffley smiled.

“We’re kind of lucky because the city of Kitchener not only encourages something like this on Neighbours Day, but promotes it. They make it really easy to work with and put it on a bigger scale by barricading the streets. We just bring out a couple of things and flyer the neighbouring communities and bring everyone together,” McIvor added.

McKenna said there was so much interest in this year’s event that the city actually had to turn away some people who had been hoping to be hosts or featured musicians.

“I feel like there’s just a connectedness and desire for neighbours to feel supported by one another. We can see that today,” McKenna said.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic had a busy day, stopping at multiple neighbourhoods across the city.

“It’s all about creating a spirit of belonging, getting everyone to know each other, recognizing that our community is growing. People are moving a lot more than they used to, and it’s a great way to know each other and build that going forward.”

For several of the youngest participants living near Vintage Crescent, the day was a can’t-miss event.

“It feels great because it’s fun and there’s a bunch of live music and food trucks. We all look forward to this day,” eleven-year-old Parker told CTV News.

“It’s just really fun because there are so many activities that you can do and everyone is just really happy,” ten-year-old Olivia echoed.

When asked what makes her neighbourhood special, ten-year-old Julie’s answer was simple: “All the people.”

Friends Parker, Olivia, and Julie pose for a photo as they celebrate Neighbours Day in Kitchener on June 15, 2024. (Shelby Knox/CTV News)

Preparing for 2025

Anyone who wants to get involved in Neighbours Day next year is encouraged to keep check out the arts, culture, and events section of the city of Kitchener’s website. Emails will be send out when applications for musicians, music ambassadors, and hosts open for the 2025 event.

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