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Hello, Neighbor

Front Porch Day returns after successful launch

Times Observer file photo by Brian Ferry Following a successful launch last year, Front Porch Day will expand to Warren County this year. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 14, and Sunday, Aug. 15.

The back yard has the barbecue, but the front porch has the community.

Front Porch Day is gaining momentum.

After an inaugural year during a pandemic, Warren Front Porch Day has grown to Warren County’s Front Porch Days for year two. The event will be held Saturday, Aug. 14, and Sunday, Aug. 15.

“It’s about getting to know your neighbors,” committee member Gary Candreia said.

“It’s about connecting,” committee member Tom Schultz said.

“The more you know about people, the friendlier the world can be,” committee member Pat Evans said.

Some of the founders of the event heard Bill Kimmons sing “If the World Had a Front Porch” originally by Tracy Lawrence at an event decades ago.

“Then he did a monologue about porches and how we should use them,” committee member Gary Lester said. “We caught up with him the next day and said, ‘tell us more.'”

He couldn’t. “There is no more, he said,” according to Lester. “He made it up on the spot.”

When Doug Hearn, another Front Porch Committee member, came to Warren, “the Smith family invited him to sit down and have a chat.”

That event was so unique in his experience, Hearn wrote a letter to the editor about it.

That brought back the “tell us more” moment.

The group got back together and started Warren Front Porch Day.

“Because of all the restrictions last year, we had a very limited event,” Lester said.

There were several blocks in downtown Warren, the South Side, and a couple streets in Pleasant Township.

Two porches had musical performances.

“With the input we got, we decided we could go county-wide,” he said.

This year, the committee has made inroads with municipalities throughout the county.

“Russell, Clarendon, Sheffield, Pleasant Township, Tidioute, Youngsville, and Sugar Grove, possibly Conewango Township, and the City of Warren” are involved, Lester said.

The group is not interested in discriminating against those without front porches. “It says porch, but be outdoors to meet your neighbors,” Evans said. “Your driveway, garage, or a pop-up.”

The inspirational leader of the movement has been invited to join the festivities this year.

“Once we got this rolling, we were able to track down Bill Kimmons,” Lester said. “It was four levels of contact.”

“He said, ‘if you want me to, I’ll come up and perform,” Lester said.

That’s exactly what they wanted.

Kimmons and his band, Bare Bones, will perform and lead a sing-along at the First Lutheran Church, 109 W. Third Ave., Warren, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15.

United Refining is sponsoring the travel for the band. ERA Team VP Real Estate is purchasing a banner to hang over Market Street.

Thrivent Financial is putting up the money for signs for the event and Whirley DrinkWorks is sponsoring other promotional materials.

Committee members are hosting the band, so there aren’t any hotel costs to cover.

While the two-day event has an element of being prepared for uncooperative weather, both days are scheduled for front porch activities. There is no particular division of labor for people staying on their porches versus walking around and greeting those who stayed. “Do whatever you choose,” Schultz said.

During the inaugural event, a concert on the porch of Doug Hearn and Steve Blume was attended by dozens of folks socially distanced along both sides of Liberty Street.

The days of COVID-19 are not over. “Take whatever measures you feel are appropriate,” Schultz said.

Anyone who posts a photo of their Front Porch Day participation to the group’s Facebook Page “will be entered in a drawing to win a custom pen-and-ink drawing of their home by a local artist,” Evans said.

There aren’t a lot of costs involved in the event and it isn’t designed to drive revenue for some segment of the business community.

The committee can’t gauge the success of the event on revenue.

“The way that we’ll measure it is if we get feedback,” Lester said.

There is a goal for Front Porch Days of the future.

“Next? Pennsylvania’s Front Porch Day,” Lester said. “Then National Front Porch Day. I wanted to be able to say Warren was the home of National Front Porch Day.”

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