Hosted by the City of Thorold's Town & Gown committee, OneThorold and the DowntownThorold BIA, members from all three groups met last Friday to brainstorm ways of welcoming Brock students to Thorold this September.
The casual, unstructured family event will welcome students and the entire Thorold community-boosted by free store samples and discounts-to enjoy a free barbecue, free ice cream courtesy of Da Bomb Bath, and a free yoga class in the street, hosted by the Yoga Centre of Niagara.
The Niagara River Lions will run a three-on-three basketball game, and a bocce game is expected to break out in the alley next to Biscotti Café. A "Ships Climb the Mountain" relay race is also in the planning phases. The group is working on securing music for the event.
According to event organizer Diana D'Intino, "This started with the BIA wanting to get the word out to students that there's a lot you can do downtown, within walking distance of the bus. The basic idea is to say to students, 'Welcome to Thorold; we're happy you are here. Let's be good neighbours and start off on the right foot.' The response has been fantastic," so far, she added. "It's really heartwarming."
Vice president of student services Heidi Stricko told the Thorold News, "Many Brock students, including myself, choose Thorold as their home throughout their studies with some even continuing to live and work here following graduation. With such a huge population of students in the area it is comforting to see the City of Thorold and the local businesses hosting a community barbecue to welcome us. We are contributing citizens just like any other and it is nice to be welcomed and recognized as valued members of the community."
Front Street will be closed from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. that Saturday, and the event will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Official greeters – including Mayor Terry Ugulini and others-will be strategically stationed at four entry points.
A comprehensive event map will direct students to downtown BIA businesses, which are being asked to set up a booth, tent, table or "backyard" to engage students, provide free food or other giveaways; and run a free class or demonstration of their product or work; as well as provide and supervise an activity, such as volleyball, pickleball, Nerf lawn darts, races, a free throw competition, or hula hoops.
Businesses offering employment, intern, and co-op opportunities for students will be listed at the BIA booth.
Also at the BIA booth, a "Get Sh*! Done" List will inform students and the community of all the things that can be accomplished in downtown Thorold, including where to buy a watch battery, greeting card, or socks; pick up supper, get a haircut, get a tattoo, find a vintage t-shirt, and a host of other services.
Merchants are being asked to help spread the word-whether through social media, distributing posters; or by telling their neighbours; as well as providing funding or services in-kind for printing, publicity, giveaways, balloons, and other promotional items.
Washrooms will be available to the public at the Thorold Arena, the Thorold Library, and the Yoga Centre of Niagara.