Loving life in the village

13 Jun

I love living in the Village of Webster. The people are friendly, the streets are extremely walkable, there are parks within walking distance, and great restaurants and pubs just around the corner. We live on a street, but feel like we are part of a neighborhood.

Saturday (June 12) was a great example of what’s to love about Webster. For starters, that afternoon our Park Ave. neighbor Doug Pucci hosted his second annual Village Block Party, featuring two food trucks and a free concert by his Red Hot and Blue Band, playing from Pucci’s spacious porch.

Everyone in the village was invited, and more than 100 answered the call. Adults spread their quad chairs across the lawn and closed-off street and listened to the music, or stood in small groups visiting with neighbors. Children chalked in the street, played with bubbles and danced in the grass.

It was the perfect opportunity for long-time neighbors to reconnect after a long pandemic. It was also a chance for new residents to meet their new neighbors and start to to know the feeling that they are part of the village community.

It was the quintessential village experience.


Earlier in the day, I was riding my bike and happened upon a woman setting up chairs and a table in the lawn of the apartment complex near my house. She was taping some kind of sign onto the table. Curious (and being who I am), I stopped to find out what was going on.

Her name was Jennifer Martinez, and she explained that she was setting up the table for her son and his friends, who were going to hold a Free Lemonade stand later that afternoon.

Apparently every year since her son Emilio was very young, Jennifer’s mother Gail had held a garage sale. And every year during that sale, Emilio would set up a lemonade stand. This year, Gail wasn’t able to hold her sale, so Jennifer suggested that Emilio simply set up his stand outside their home instead.

In years past, Emilio had charged for his lemonade. But not this year. When I asked Jennifer about that, she said that the idea to hand out the lemonade for free was “just to be kind.” Then, after giving it a bit of thought, she added, “It’s nice to be among people again.”

Emilio and his fellow business owners Will Brunswick and Owen Knapp, all 7th-grade friends at Spry Middle School, were enthusiastic lemonade hawkers, even though they weren’t earning any cold, hard cash. They stood out on the sidewalk yelling “free lemonade!” to all the cars driving by on busy South Ave, and any time a biker, walker or runner got within 50 yards of the table, one of them (usually Owen, wearing a flag cape), would chase them down “selling” their wares at full volume.

At first the salesmen were only getting a lot of honks and waves from passing cars. But while I was there (getting my free lemonade), they were able to wave down a passing FedEx delivery truck, whose driver gratefully accepted the refreshment. And if yelling to someone didn’t work, they would take the lemonade to their customers, at one point skittering across South Ave., two-fisting cups of lemonade, to deliver them to people who were setting up for the block party.

The highlight of the day was probably when the boys were able to attract the attention of a passing police car. The officer didn’t stop, but she did come back a few minutes later and invited another colleague to join her. So at one point two Webster police officers were standing at the table enjoying some lemonade.

The kids even earned a little money after all. Some patrons couldn’t resist throwing a dollar on the table, and one family brought them some fresh-picked strawberries.

A friendly neighbor who didn’t mind at all a random stranger stopping to chat. Free lemonade and kids having fun doing something other than sitting in front of a screen. Just two more things I love about village life.

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