To kick off and celebrate our re-branding from Beautify VaHi to the Virginia Highland District Association, we hosted a Food Truck Friday on September 25th. The night of the event, we were blown away by the support of the local community, the amazing food the trucks provided, and the lovely music played by Webster Band!
With a new board in place, we wanted to host an event to celebrate this launch in a way that would create synergy in the neighborhood while still being safe during COVID-19. Since Neighbor’s Pub offered their support by lending us their parking lot, we organized a food truck event complete with live music. To maximize space for social distancing at the event, we invited the Webster Band to play across the street in North Highland Park.
As our inaugural Va-Hi District event, we weren’t sure what the turn-out might look like, but we wanted to provide an array of food options, so we lined up a stellar group of food trucks: Hole in the Wall, Azucar Cuban Cuisine, The Pickle Truck, and Repicci’s Italian Ice. In order to keep it COVID-19 friendly, we propped signs up with reminders to wear masks and offered free disposable masks and hand sanitizer from Little Barn Apothecary. We adorned the park with new lights, and the Webster Band brought a few more lights of their own. The neighborhood and our hearts were buzzing with excitement as 6 pm rolled around. The band started warming up, and people began to file in, placing blankets and chairs on the grass.
As the smells of delicious food wafted through the air, people began picking out which food truck they would visit and lined up to order. By 7 pm, our spirits were soaring as we realized the impact of this event. Countless people roamed from grabbing their food, stopping to get a drink from Neighbor’s Pub, and dancing to Webster Band’s perfect covers of some of soft rock’s best classics.
During a break between the band’s sets, VaHi District Co-founders Katie Voelpel, Lindsay and Tyler Wheeler all told a bit about our story. Lindsay explained how we are working with businesses to generate community support and fill vacancies in the neighborhood. Katie explained how Beautify VaHi was founded in 2018 and has gained traction in both beautifying and unifying the neighborhood. Hearing the crowd cheer boosted our energy, sending us a warm confirmation that our efforts are more than worthwhile.
After the event, we were pleased to see ongoing community support through interactions with us on social media and the lovely feedback many residents sent our way. Many neighbors shared pictures and videos of the event and tagged us on Instagram, @virginiahighlanddistrict. Jena Anton, who has lived in the neighborhood for 13 years, said that she “loved how the event brought together varied groups of people: the longtime Atkins Park regulars, the young singles congregating at Neighbors, the music lovers, and families spending time outdoors with their kids.”
Besides the fact that the event brought a “curiosity and buzz” to the neighborhood and those passing by, Anton explained that she was happy to see that the event could “could cater to all comfort levels during this pandemic.” For many residents, it brought back a sense of normalcy that had been missing. “I hadn’t seen live music in seven months, and hearing the band play actually got me choked up,” Anton said.
We couldn’t be happier that our first event was so successful! Thanks to all of the food trucks for their delicious meals, to Webster Band for their fun tunes, to Neighbor’s Pub for lending us their parking lot, and to both Neighbor’s and Atkins Park for providing drinks to our event-goers. Another huge thanks goes out to all of our residents and visitors who showed up to this event! Without you, there would be no community, and we’re excited to see more of you at future events. Stay up-to-date on all of our upcoming events by signing up for our newsletter or following us on social media.