COVENTRY — Norma Smith has fond memories of the various community events held regularly in Coventry when she was growing up. Images of Old Home Days, for example, play in her mind as she thinks back on her childhood. 

“It was part of our summer every year when we were kids,” Smith recalled. “This was in the ’50s and ’60s. There was a parade, people with their horses and people carrying flags… and there would be rides and games and that kind of thing.”

Smith misses those kinds of fun events, and the way they tended to foster a sense of community among residents of the town. As the president of Grow Coventry, she’s eager to recreate some of that. 

“We’re trying to get citizens to participate in bringing these types of things back to the town,” Smith said Monday. 

Incorporated as a nonprofit this year, Grow Coventry was actually founded a couple of years ago with the mission of building community “through history, culture, education and natural resources,” and “bridging the gap between business and community.”  

There’s something special about community members coming together voluntarily to bring fun and memorable events to town, Smith said. 

“The greatest resource in any community are the people,” she added. “Government has its purpose, but when you want to improve on community involvement, it takes the citizens of the town.”

Smith said she also hopes through community-led events to provide support for local businesses. 

“It can only benefit the community, in my eyes,” Smith said. 

The first major Grow Coventry event in the works is a holiday stroll, to be held in early December.  

The stroll will take place between the plazas lining Sandy Bottom Road, Smith said, adding that there will also be a holiday craft fair set up at The Olde Theater Diner as part of the event. Businesses in each of the three plazas will offer various discounts, dance demonstrations and festive activities and photo opportunities.

“Our whole mission is to bring events to the town that support small businesses and provide something fun for the residents of the town,” said Diane Ihlefeld-Greenstein, treasurer of Grow Coventry. “We just thought this was a good way to start that. It should be a great event.”

Ihlefeld-Greenstein added that she hopes the stroll will be the first of many similar community events. 

The holiday stroll will take place Saturday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering to lend a hand or in being a vendor should reach out to Ihlefeld-Greenstein by Nov. 1 at bathwitch08@gmail.com

“We’re looking for people to volunteer, we’re looking for crafters, artisans,” Smith said. 

Smith added that Grow Coventry is also on the lookout for new members. Those interested in becoming involved with the nonprofit can email Smith at growcoventry2018@gmail.com 

“We just want to bring people together,” Smith said. “That’s really what we want to do.”

kgravelle@ricentral.com

 

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