Photos courtesy of We Love Long Beach.
Nearly 60 homes and over 1,800 of their inhabitants across Long Beach screamed for ice cream during the second annual We Love Long Beach Citywide Ice Cream Social last weekend. What better way to welcome the summer season than with a scoop of Mint n’ Chip on a hot day with friends and new acquaintances?
Local nonprofit organization We Love Long Beach has served as the catalyst for hundreds upon hundreds of neighbors reaching out to each other, many meeting for the first time, to build a stronger sense of community.
According to the organization, the number of hosts, also known as Block Connectors, and the estimated size of the crowds of attendees makes this easily the largest citywide event that We Love Long Beach has organized since it was founded in 2008.
Last year, the inaugural Ice Cream Social attracted over 500 participants, included in 31 host locations. This was the fifth citywide celebration that WLLB has organized overall and the third this year. The exponential growth of these events is certainly an indicator that residents are eager to meet their neighbors and create the bonds that strengthen communities.
“It was a lot of fun and really easy, especially because it was me and three other friends that hosted,” said Natalie Chan, co-host in the Wrigley neighborhood, in a press statement. “We reached out to some of our local resources and a restaurant said we could have all the ice I wanted, so we filled a kiddie pool with ice.
Chan said she and her friends’ only goal was to create more neighborliness.
“People seemed really surprised by that. One of my neighbors was just on their way back from lunch and now I think they may want to host one at their house in the future," she said.
Christine Gibson, who hosted a Citywide Ice Cream Social in her South of Conant neighborhood for the second consecutive year said her neighborhood has a tradition of meeting in the fall for an event. To be able to meet during the summer was a great way for her and the community to meet new people.
“Having an opportunity for people to meet face to face kind of personalizes each of the neighbors, so they’re not just the woman whose dog barks but you get the full picture of a person’s life," she said in a statement. "Sometimes when you just see them coming and going, it makes them seem two-dimensional. When we get together it makes people seem more human.”
In May, We Love Long Beach was awarded $30,000 from the Knight Foundation Grant, a fund with the Long Beach Community Foundation that will provide funding for two other citywide events, the upcoming Pumpkin Carving and Chili Party in October and a citywide breakfast early next year. Block Connectors will receive marketing materials and grocery store gift cards to host their events.