Caitlyn Reynolds knew something had to be done for local businesses during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Her solution? Park parties.
On Saturday, Sept. 25, Caitlin Reynolds orchestrated a park party at Wehner Park for Shrewsbury residents.
These park parties give locals a chance to prop up their chairs, order from food trucks and enjoy live music. Coordinating the park parties since May, Reynolds has enjoyed making an experience for the community coming out of quarantine.
“We started off really small with one food truck and then I kind of was just trying to gauge how it was going to go, and the first one went really well,” Reynolds said. “Everyone was coming out of their homes and was happy to see each other.”
Reynolds organized these park parties with the intent of bringing people together as well as supporting local businesses.
“I do not work for the city, I’m just a resident,” Reynolds said. “It really started out of sheer boredom on my part. When we were under lockdown, everyone was trying to get food delivered and get groceries delivered, so I just thought to myself that it would be a really good idea, not only for the community, but also for these small restaurants and food truck owners that were struggling to try to make up business.”
The event is largely centered around supporting local restaurants. When the nation was self-isolating, Reynolds recognized the impact these eateries had on the community.
“I realized when we were under quarantine and lockdown and people were looking to go anywhere- it really was our small businesses that were really holding the community together,” Reynolds said. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to support small businesses in our community that are really struggling right now to make ends meet.”
Along with supporting local restaurants, there is a goal to support local artists. Because of occupancy restrictions and/or social distancing mandates in bars and restaurants, many musicians lose a large amount of their income.
“This is our fourth time doing a band, and some of them have donated their time, so they’ve just worked off tips for the evening,” Reynolds said. “And then [with] others, we’ve had some community members that have donated to cover their fee.”
While these parties are aimed to bring the community closer, Reynolds is still conscious of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures she believes should be taken.
“The park is a really large space so it’s a great setup for the trucks, as well as for people, to social distance,” Reynolds said. “And I do require people wearing masks, so it’s a very safe community environment.”
Reynolds continues to organize these events to create memories with the local community.
“These are the people that you live next to,” Reynolds said. “These are your neighbors. It’s nice to just be able to share something with them.”