Life filled the town of Elon as people laughed, drank and explored the many entertainments that filled the block.
Friday evening, the Elon social district block party attracted families, students and Elon residents to the social district that wraps around the corner of S. Williamson Avenue and W. Lebanon Avenue, going partially down N. Hold Avenue.
While the social district had been soft launched for a month, the block party officially kicked off the social district, as well as Music 2 Dine 2. Music 2 Dine 2, live music hosted throughout the Friday evenings in the summer, hosted Impulsive Tattoo after a last-minute adjustment of band lineups.
The social district allowed individuals of drinking age to carry beer or wine around the block to engage in block party activities such as face painting, inflatable slides and axe throwing, tricycle races and more.
Beers in hand, Elon resident Michelle Merrit and friends gathered outside, live music playing around the corner. Her kids, having just gone on the bouncy slide, were laughing and cheering as they waited in line to get their faces painted.
Merritt said that in her five years at Elon, the town has grown into a fun environment for all of the community.
“Elon has become more family-friendly. It’s a great social event,” Merritt said. “It's fun. All the parents can gather around, and kids can run and play. We’re all having fun together.”
Family friendliness was an important goal of the block party, according to town of Elon Downtown Development Director Jill Weston.
“I really wanted to reach the whole community, and if you walk around, you'll see senior citizens, families, students, parents. It is a great representation of Elon,” Weston said.
The social district also brought in a variety of people from out of town, including one prospective Elon resident, Ryan Hackett, who enjoyed the town. Hackett said Elon seemed like a good community for his young family to settle in.
“The way the world is now, so big and different ideas out there, it is nice to have more of a community and family type atmosphere. It's perfect,” Hackett said.
Elon Town Manager Richard Roedner said the community and downtown were what originally drew him to Elon in 2020.
“Anytime we can do something that adds some spice to downtown, add some fun, add some bling, I think it is a good thing. The social district is part of that,” Roedner said. “We are really growing into our space downtown.”
Roedner said he plans to continue growing downtown, beginning a program to paint fire hydrants, planning more community events and communicating with businesses about opportunities downtown as part of a downtown master plan.
Alongside the block party Friday, Roedner said the town of Elon opened bids for a formal plaza where a white tent currently sits on W. College Avenue, another part of the master plan.
For students like junior Alex Imbrogno, vamping up the social district is exciting, especially following isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Imbrongo said restrictions during the pandemic limited students’ involvement in the community, so seeing new events is exciting.
“To see town super active and really involved, seeing people and students come together to have fun on a Friday is super cool,” Imbrongo said. “It’s nice to be able to acknowledge there is a community around us.”