David O’Driscoll writes about a decade of hosting summer street parties in Walthamstow
We are hosting our annual Elmfield Road Street Party in July – and this year we have an added reason to celebrate.
The story goes that an Elmfield Road resident was recovering after a car accident when his partner suggested, while trying to get him out of the house: “Why don’t you survey people in the street about the idea of starting a street party? We have been talking about it for ages.”
The first house he knocked on, he was greeted with a dispiriting response: “No-one round here would be interested in a street party, mate.” But ten years on, we have every reason to celebrate.
Elmfield Road is in the Coppermill area of Walthamstow and is fortunate to have a one-sided street with a green space opposite our houses. This space was created when an overflow canal was developed for the River Lea. This meant knocking down one side of the street, out of which the green space was created.
On the day of the event we obtain council permission to close the street to traffic. The party is centred on the green and we construct a marquee, featuring a small stage. This is used as a focal point for announcements such as prize giving, a raffle, and a top local DJ who features later on in the evening.
As we are expecting some interest in alcohol, this year we have set up an honesty bar, the ‘Elmfield Arms’. Food is provided by us all, which reflects and celebrates the rich and diverse population that lives in Walthamstow.
The day will feature various competitions such as a ‘bake off’ and ‘best front garden’. A temporary track enables both adults and children to compete in a number of ‘old fashioned’ games including egg-and-spoon, three-legged, and wheelbarrow races, as well as the very popular horse pantomime race!
The Elmfield Road versus The Rest of the World ‘tug of war’ involves everyone of all ages to show their strength, yet provides a great opportunity to bring the local community together in a fun, competitive, yet ultimately unifying event.
There is a lot written negatively about living in an inner city community like Walthamstow, and it would be wrong to deny that there are not tensions and stress at times, but if we can find ways of overcoming our reservations and come together with events like this, I am sure we will find we have much more in common than not.
For more information about the Elmfield Road Street Party taking place on Saturday 14th July: