Davion West, the winner of a watermelon-eating contest during the second annual Community Fun Day in D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood on Sept. 10, chows down on his way to the title. (Howard University News Service)
Davion West, the winner of a watermelon-eating contest during the second annual Community Fun Day in D.C.'s Petworth neighborhood on Sept. 10, chows down on his way to the title. (Howard University News Service)

WASHINGTON — David Sheon says it’s a new day for the Petworth Community. These days, the member of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) Ward 4D said, he and his colleagues are more focused on people than on the trappings of office.

“We get $12,000 a year from the city, and the old ANC spent a lot of that money on an office,” Sheon said. “Well, the new ANC reevaluated that plan and came to the conclusion that that wasn’t necessary. So, we used a storage closet instead. Now that money can go into grants and supporting organizations in the community.”

One of those “new” priorities is Community Fun Day, an annual event in which local residents come out for food, fun and to meet and greet their neighbors.

An inflated moon bounce house, food, face painting, health screenings from a local hospital and a watermelon eating contest were some of the activities set up in Triangle Park on 9th and Gallatin streets in northwest Washington Saturday to bring out Petworth residents for the second annual Fun Day.

The Fusion DDC band, which receives a grant through the ANC, also performed as part of the day’s events.

Sheon said he hopes the event, which attracted over 100 residents, will create better communication within the community.

“This event is fun and interactive — it helps us communicate with each other,” he said. “We have to be able to say ‘What’s going on, senior citizen? Are you able to get your trash out? Are you getting your needed social services?’

“There’s a woman on my block that has lived there for over 15 years,” he said. “Lately she’s been complaining about Pepco charging her for someone else’s bill, so I called them, and this wasn’t true.

“Come to find out she’s just getting older and is suffering from dementia,” Sheon said. “She lives alone, so I helped her get set up with all the assistance she can get from the government she needs, which she had no idea she could receive.”

ANC Commissioner Nancy Roth said the event helps create unity to address problems when they occur.

For example, Roth said, before she joined the commission, she started a protest to have the liquor license removed from a local strip club, the Macombo Lounge, for inappropriate flyers passed out every Sunday in association with the business.

The club and the community worked out their differences and the lounge was one of the major donors of the Community Fun Day, including providing the moon bounce for the children, Roth said.

“Usually the mediation process ends on bad terms, but that speaks for the community here in Petworth,” she said. “We are put on this planet to love our neighbor, and we all are neighbors.”

ANC Commissioner Renee Bowser said she hopes the daywill attract more people to other events within the ward.

“If people see one another, they are more likely to come to the meetings and talk about issues that they are having,” Bowser said. “Compared to last year’s event, we have progressed so much. There are a lot more people here and we have big sponsors such as Safeway and [the Department of Parks and Recreation] and Howard University.”

Keeping children active and engaged also was a focus of the event.

Davion West, 10, was the winner of the watermelon eating contest. He and his mom were at a nearby market and a family friend informed them of event.

“I love watermelon, that’s why I won,” Davion said. “Today was so much fun, I even ran into some of the staff and my friends from my school down the street, Truesdell [Elementary School].”

Clarnette Wesley, a Petworth resident and mother of three, said was pleased to have a place where children can engage each other in a safe environment.

“My boys are really active, and I have to keep them busy and out of trouble,” Welsey said. “It is also good for them to see different ways to socialize and meet other kids from the neighborhood.”

The volunteer face painter Sierra Jackson praised the neighborhood kids.

“They are really behaved,” Jackson said. “While they are having fun, they all listened and followed instructions very well.

“I came last year, and there is a lot more kids this time,” Jackson said. “That just means a lot more fun for me, and them.”

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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