This purpose of this blog, the Village, is to share ideas, tips, and stories about what it takes to come together and help raise our children in a positive and supportive community.  So when Bill Wolcott (aka Wild Bill), one of the names behind one of the largest haunts in Sonoma County (the Wicked West Ghost Town of Jose Ramon Ave), posted a blog at SantaRosaMom.com about how to draw together a neighborhood, I had to repost it here in the Village.  Enjoy, and go out and make friends with your neighbors!

My Neighborhood, Your Neighborhood, Our Neighborhoods
by Bill Wolcott

Bill and Cassandra Wolcott

When I first moved in to the neighborhood it was a good place to live.  But at the same time, it was a boring place to live. We didn’t get many trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and all of us neighbors would wave but we didn’t really know each other.

So I decided in 2008 things needed to change.

My family and I along with one of the neighbors started off by setting up a haunted front yard and having the neighborhood kids get involved by helping with the design, dressing up and becoming a part of the show. It was a big hit!  Many of the neighbors saw what was going on and got involved, the word spread around town and BANG – we had a line of trick-or-treaters the first year.

Now, as many Sonoma County residents know we host a massive home haunt that gets a lot of attention from all over the US. Last year, our neighborhood saw around 8,500 visitors from all over. Our neighborhood worked together closely to ensure everything went smooth, and it did.

We also put on an annual 4th of July block party. This social meet and greet has really become a fun event with games, contests and lots of good street BBQ.

Since we’ve been doing these events, I feel our neighborhood has really come together.  It’s now a safe and fun neighborhood to live in, as well as to raise our children in.

From time to time, people ask me how we got started with our neighborhood events. The first thing I tell them is that we got to know our neighbors and became a small community of friends. That has to happen first, and I think it can happen in any Sonoma County neighborhood with a little effort and social interaction.

If any of you reading this are interested in firing up your neighborhood, this is how we got the ball rolling:

Our first 4th of July event we made up some flyers and went door to door handing them out to the neighbors on our street. The flyer said something like “Pull your BBQ in the street, invite your friends and let’s have fun this 4th of July.” To my amazement, a lot of the neighbors did just that. I Q’d up and shared something like 400 oysters for that party and wow, everyone had a blast! The next year we did the same thing with the flyers, and we added a BBQ sauce contest, and some games.  Once again, many of the neighbors came out. We even had neighbors from other blocks bring their BBQs and enjoy the day with us. Now, we block the streets off and are host to a few hundred family members, neighbors and friends from all over Santa Rosa. The key thing that kicked it all off was the social interaction by simply inviting everyone outside for a BBQ.

I hope this blog will inspire others in the community to go outside and do the same thing as we did. It will only make for a better overall community.  And maybe, we could put together a contest for who has the best yard haunt in SR or Sonoma County sometime in the near future, lol!