Photo: Cookies from Plymouth Congregational Church.
After 13 years, you could be excused to think that Meet Belmont – the annual late summer community “meet and greet” held Tuesday, Aug. 31 – would become old hat.
At 7 p.m., the Chenery Middle School cafeteria was packed with kids, parents, couples and residents learning about Belmont for the first and some, the 14th time.
Nearly 100 non-profit organizations and town government departments were on hand to greet the wandering mob, with the noise high enough that normal speaking levels required leaning onto each other to hear what was being said.
Mark Maida of Longmeadow Road came to Meet Belmont with his two children, Aubry, 5, and Wesley, 3.
“We wanted to learn about all the things that are going on in Belmont and how we can be a better part of the community. There are a lot of activities to do in town and lots of organizations that go great work,” he said, carrying a load of pamphlets and other stuff in his arms.
Grouped by related interest – government agencies and committees along the wall, religious organizations next to each other – volunteers gave out information, novelties (kudos to Belmont Light with its sunglasses) and candy and treats to anyone interested to hear what they had to say.
“It’s great,” said Ellen Gitelman, executive director of Belmont World Film, the town’s film screening group, of being an exhibitor at Meet Belmont.
“Year after year, we get at least 30 to 35 people sign up for our mailing list. We see them at our Family Film Festival, the young families moving to Belmont, and they say, ‘Hey, you look familiar’ and I realize how I met them,” said Gitelman, who also said two businesses are eager to sponsor the festival after meeting her at the get-together.
By the end of the night, participants learned about the Garden Club’s Winter House Tour on Dec. 3, enjoyed the uniqueness of the Morris Dancers, how to register their cat with the town (Town Clerk Ellen Cushman registered just about 20 new voters) and how to register for sports camps run by the Recreation Department.
For the new organizers of this year’s Meet Belmont – Allen Babroudi, Natalie Leino, Erin Lubien, and Carol Trager – the night could not have gone more swimmingly.
“All of us are very proud of what occurred tonight,” said Lubien, noting that the rise in parents and children at the event was due to a closer connection with the schools, principals and groups like the PTA/PTO.
“We have been working around the clock for the past month doing this, and it came together at the end,” said Lubien, praising the 25 residents and students who volunteered Tuesday.
And for next year? Lubien said the group is already thinking about that night.