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Regular Friday Night Suppers are over until Spring 2005

posted January 31, 2005

Friday night supper

This past year, the Friday Night Suppers at the park grew bigger than the cooks and the park friends had expected when they started the suppers the year before last. The cooking was often fun but sometimes it seemed that new people thought the suppers were more like a conveniently-cheap kid-friendly restaurant than a chance to meet their neighbours. The rink house presented particular problems. We tried to make some changes - replace chairs with benches, put the tables into long rows - to encourage people to squash closer together and talk to strangers. It worked at first but not for long. People soon resumed "saving" big parts of the tables for only their friends, and if strangers sat next to them, there was often no effort to include them in the talk. The good will that's needed for a rink supper to be fun was in short supply with some groups, replaced by complaints about the service (?!) and the crowding. But the supper was never intended to be a service. In addition, people who just came to skate and play hockey were squeezed out into the cold to change, not only during the supper but also after (people lingered longer and longer at their tables, unaware of the skaters). Between the farmers' market and the supper with kids playing indoor tag and toys to trip over, the skaters began to wonder out loud if they were going to be displaced completely.

So the cooks and some of the park friends concluded that they'd better call a halt to the community suppers for now, and rethink the idea. That doesn't mean the end of the wonderful food (the cooks love to cook), but the long tables won't be set up and the rink house will be focused mainly on people who come to skate. When the skaters get hungry, they can just sit at one of the little tables, or balance the plate on their lap by the side of the rink or around the campfire. That works out fine too.

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