Come Together

Arlington Park's Porchfest Turns Strangers into Neighbors

The third annual music festival takes place Sunday, Oct. 7.

By Ilene Denton October 2, 2018 Published in the October 2018 issue of Sarasota Magazine

A band performs at Porchfest.

Arlington Parkthat leafy old neighborhood of some 1,500 homes east of Tamiami Trail between Bahia Vista and Webber—is in transition with a capital T. The last few years have seen a flurry of tear-downs and rebuilds, thanks to its in-town location and the lovely city park and recreation center for which it’s named.

All the more reason why it’s vital for neighbors new and old to come together. And what better way to do so than over music at Arlington Park’s Porchfest

The third annual Porchfest, taking place Sunday, Oct. 7, is just what the name implies. A few dozen homeowners offer up their front porches to amateur and professional musicians of all genres for the afternoon, while people stroll from house to house—many with dogs and toddlers in little red wagons in tow—turning front yards into mini-concert venues. It’s part of a nationwide movement that started 10 years ago in Ithaca, New York, and now stretches across the country.

An estimated 2,500 people attended the Arlington Park Porchfest last year, remarkable since it came right on the heels of Hurricane Irma. At Danielle O’Donnell’s home on Hillview Street, which she shares with her husband, 6-year-old daughter and her mother, Long Island Johnny played Jimmy Buffett songs in her carport. And while it’s not required of host homeowners, she offered salads, lavender lemon pound cake, “and my famous brownies” to people who stopped by. “It was truly magic,” she says. “I looked up the street and it was a sea of people, families, people on bikes, kids.”

It takes a village to produce something with the impact of Porchfest, but neighbors say they get way more than they give. “It’s all about neighborhood good will,” says O'Donnell.

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