WARREN, Pa. – Warren County Front porch days marked its third anniversary this weekend, with the event continuing to grow in popularity.
The concept of the event is simple, seeking to help neighbors get to know one another. The growth of the backyard turned many neighbors into strangers. Front Porch Days seek to change that, and in year three, has done an admirable job.
The idea has been over 30 years in the making.
“Four couples from Warren attended the Augusta Heritage Festival, Davis & Elkins College,” said Front Porch Days co-founder Gary Lester. “It’s their summer-long program of folk art and music. We visited the last weekend when there were special shows.
“At a sing-along, a group did a song about front porches and after it, the leader did a monologue about front porches and how we don’t use them like we used to. He said people put everything in the backyard now – BBQs, patios, swings, pools… He said there should be a “National Front Porch Day” when everyone connects with neighbors.”
This intrigued the group from Warren.
“Our group was interested and we caught up to the guy the next day and asked him about National Front Porch Day,” Lester added. “He said ‘Oh, I just made that up on the spot.’ We said we were interested in doing it in Warren and he said Go for it.”
So, after years of thinking about it, what was the impetus behind getting it going?
“Doug Hearn wrote a letter to the editor saying how charmed he was when Marge and Pete Smith greeted him as we walked by their porch and invited him to sit and chat,” Lester said. “I contacted Doug and told him the old story and he said ‘let’s do it!.”
And from a humble beginning, it continues to gain momentum.
“The first year, we just did a few neighborhoods,” Lester said. “Last year, we expanded into other municipalities and we’re doing that now. We found people who would put signs in their yards and encourage people to take part. The idea is for people to take time to sit on their porches, their driveways, their lawns and engage with neighbors
“Some are having refreshment, there has been music. People are also encouraged to walk around their neighborhoods and connect that way.”
The event ended with a bang at Betts Park, with a community sing-a-long at the Defrees Pavilion.
“Our pipe dream is to see this grow with state-wide involvement and ultimately for Warren to be the home of the National Front Porch Day,” Lester said.