CommUNITY bonfire in Swampscott will bring residents together this Friday

SWAMPSCOTT — After a Facebook post where a variety of residents talked about the difficulties of meeting people, a “CommUNITY” bonfire was organized.

Earlier this year, a woman posted on the For the Love of Swampscott (FLOS) Facebook page about her disappointment in not being able to make friends in the town. The post prompted comments from a slew of residents agreeing with her, which surprised many of the community’s organizations.

“This woman felt alienated in the community, but it was all the comments that came after of all the people saying they felt the same way, some of which having lived in the community for a very long time,” said Danielle Strauss, director of the Swampscott Recreation Department.  

Strauss, who grew up in the east end of Long Island, N.Y., and moved to Swampscott 27 years ago, said she understands how someone new to the town can feel that way. Being a “transplant resident” herself, she noticed the community’s strong family roots, which she said can make it hard for newcomers to feel welcome.

After Strauss teamed up with Sabrina Clopton, assistant director of the Swampscott Recreation Department, and Carolina Velasquez, member of the volunteer group S.U.R.E. (Swampscott Unites, Respects and Embraces), they began brainstorming an array of community events to help residents mingle. The trio brought Diane O’Brien, president of FLOS, on board and they came up with the idea for the bonfire.

“I think it’s lovely that Danielle has managed to get some really great organizations to come together for a great cause,” said O’Brien.

The community event, taking place Friday at Fisherman’s Beach from 6 to 10 p.m., is sponsored by the Town of Swampscott Recreation, Boy Scouts, S.U.R.E, FLOS, and Swampscott Yacht Club.

The organizations have spent the last few months organizing the family-friendly bonfire. A s’mores station, an area where employees of the Yacht Club will grill hamburgers and hot dogs, and Joe’s on a Roll food truck will provide food throughout the evening.

There will also be a fire dancer scheduled for two performances, music by DJ Biggs, face painting, balloon animals, and appearances from Disney characters Moana, Maui, Ariel, and Rapunzel.

There will be three individual bonfires along the beach so attendees can walk around and mingle. The bonfire’s organizers ask anyone planning to come to bring firewood, but no pallets or construction materials.

“I’m really excited about this event and everybody else working with me is excited to see the outcome,” said Strauss. “I hope people will use this event as a welcoming, even though it is end of summer, and I’m hoping this will be something new in our community that can continue on.”

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