During the summer of 2020, Rob Elford started spending more time with his neighbours in his community of The Orchards. By and large, his neighbours were acquaintances, with one he knew from his work as a pilot. As it was for most people over the last few years, the pandemic prevented large gatherings, so hanging out on the driveway became the best way to meet-up and visit with friends.

“We would hang out at the end of our driveways while the kids zipped around,” Rob says about his block at The Orchards, Cherry Loop. The driveway gatherings became more frequent, and the group of parents kept growing.

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A name solidifies the community connection

One neighbour designed a logo for this group – now calling themselves the Cherry Loopers. This design found its way to t-shirts for both the parents and kids. And the t-shirts the kids wear became like a beacon to help keep them safe.

“The neighbourhood knows that if they see a kid on the playground with the shirt, they’re a part of this block,” Rob explains. He goes on to talk about how community safety became a huge part of what they do. “All our kids are around the same age. We have active group chats where we can ask if our kids are playing at anyone’s house. This way, our kids can play freely and safe.”

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Safety with community connections

Having his kids be able to play all over the community is important to Rob. He describes growing up in the same kind of tight-knit community and the adventures are some of his favourite memories. “Seeing the bikes on the lawn reminds me of growing up. These are the kinds of friends my kids will remember for all their lives.”

As Rob got to know more of his neighbours, he learned how he's connected to his neighbours – some he even went to high school with! The group got closer, and the get-togethers got larger. The group sets up Easter egg hunts with clues all over the community. They hold annual end-of-summer barbecues, with help from the residents’ association. And their Halloween events are a big draw for parents with kids still a little too young to trick-or-treat.

“We hold this event on the Saturday before Halloween and we let the kids go door to door from around 1pm to 3pm,” explains Rob. “There’s so little traffic on our loop. It’s the perfect way to let our kids run around and have fun while staying very safe.”

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New friends and memories for a lifetime

Through all these events, Rob made connections with neighbours from all over the world. In Rob’s view, this diversity has made the Cherry Loopers stronger. There’s never any exclusion with the Cherry Loopers – only acceptance and embrace.

What started as a pandemic get-together became a community group with connections and memories for a lifetime. It’s a feeling associated with small towns. You can find a tight-knit community to connect with almost anywhere!

“Everyone knows everyone – even grandparents will come out to enjoy the celebrations,” Rob says. “It’s grown into a family affair without any conflict or drama! I couldn’t ask for a better community.”