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Why has America abandoned the Joys of Community Celebrations?

I just read an account of a visit to Europe from my friend Jenny Do. I agree that we here in America really have lost the “Community Spirit” in our holidays and celebrations. Even our Christmas & Thanksgivings are wonderful family celebrations but rarely involve our friends and neighbors. About the only time we gather together as communities is at 4th of July Celebrations where towns and fraternal organizations put on Fireworks shows and everyone picnics and Barbeques.

Why is the loss of Community so prevalent in today’s American Society?

After post-war era of the “Baby Boom’ and population shift to the Suburbs, America wanted to start to “get away from it all” and have uneventful, peaceful lives 30-40 miles out of town and the Commuter Generation took hold. We started to sequester ourselves in our vehicles, go to work in our cubicles, have meetings on the phone and return to our private homes at night, just to get up and do it all over…again and again, day after day! Now with the advent of the technology age, we are designing our own quarantined, shrink-wrapped lifestyles that eliminate our need for any other human contact!

Heck, even our ancestors got on leaky ships by the thousands to come to an unknown new land filled with (then thought to be) “viscous savages” just so they didn’t have to talk, go to church and have brunch with the neighbors they already lived with!

This isolation from the outside world is hopelessly engrained in our DNA!

Even our most precious Governmental Document, “the Bill of Rights” legislates the separation of Church and State to guarantee that the Business of day-to-day community is never blended with our personal religious gatherings and celebrations.

Here in the Bay Area, my little town of Pleasanton, California provides a little ray of hope and truly embraces Community spirit through the production of regular Community Gatherings and events. Pleasanton preserves its turn of the 19th century downtown appearance with a throwback Main Street and many quaint Victorian and early Californian homes in the area.

Virtually one Saturday every month there is a Parade down Main Street celebrating everything from Youth Sports teams to Dog Parades, Classic Cars to Wine & Food Tasting treks. During Summer, First Wednesdays shut down Main Street for a Street Fair where merchants have sidewalk sales and Other Food and Novelty Vendors sell their wares to thousands of gatherers all with no admission, just gathering community. Every Friday in the downtown Parks there are 7:00pm Free Concerts that attract hundreds and hundreds of Pleasantonians who earlier that morning go through the 4:00am early towel placing ritual to race to get the closest staked out position closest to the Bandstand for that night’s show! Its hilarious to drive by at 6:00am Friday morning to witness a sea of beach towels strategically laid out in a park without a single person to be found.
Its almost as if these people genuinely like each other! The Horror!

As a country we seem to forget how much better a movie is with a group of people on a big screen rather than alone streaming on your computer. Why going to a Sporting events is always better than being on your couch. Why Renaissance Fairs used to be really cool places to semi-experience the communities of old. Why Cruising on Wednesday nights was so loved by young people back in the 60’s & 70’s.

It’s the people watching. It’s the new unexpected surprises that a group experience brings. It’s sharing conversation and laughs with people you don’t even know. It’s being amazed by wonders with complete strangers. It’s maybe meeting your future mate or falling in love arm in arm feeling like there’s no one else in the world amongst a crowd of 10,000 people. Community Festivals and Celebrations may be old school but nothing does more for the individual soul that a great gathering of many.

Psychologists say Families that eat dinner together every night have happier marriages and produce happier more successful children as well. Why wouldn’t that same concept work on a Community Scale?

Careful Pleasanton, your backward thinking is really annoying the technologically sequestered societarians that never leave their bubbles because they might miss an instant message! That’s okay…send them a text invitation to your next Main Street Party!

Steve Howard
Bay Area Wedding Fairs


2 Responses to “Why has America abandoned the Joys of Community Celebrations?”

  1. Anja Merret says:

    Great post Steve. Couldn’t have said it any better myself. We just did a stint of volunteering in Vietnam and community is big there. And I loved it. Now we are living in Spain and it’s not bad either. So I guess it also depends on where one lives. But yes, a pity many people have insulated themselves.

  2. Alex says:

    I think it might be the difference between city and countryside. They say go to a city if you want to be alone.

    I live in London and their really is no general community feel (lots of niche community events) but when I visit my friends in the country side they always seem to be doing thing as town.

    Having said that the Olympics are on here at the moment and this is the most together London has ever felt.

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