“We were attracted straight over here like mosquitoes to a light,” Williams said.
Williams said her 5-year-old son ran straight for the bounce house.
“I liked the bouncy house because it’s so bouncy,” Tyshaun said. “I love Northside.”
Residents of the Northside neighborhood, including students, were invited to the Good Neighbor Initiative Neighborhood Night Out and Block Party Tuesday. The Northside neighborhood is a historically black neighborhood between Columbia and Lloyd Streets. In the past decade, students have begun renting properties in the area, raising the prices of property and forcing longtime residents out of their homes.
Aaron Bachenheimer, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement at UNC, said the event helps bring the two groups together and celebrate the community.
“It’s not just the students’ community, it’s not just the yearlong residents’ community,” Bachenheimer said. “It’s everybody’s community so we celebrate that and enjoy it.”
Organizations like emPOWERment Inc. and the Compass Center had booths with information about their groups.
“It’s so critical for us to come together and support each other and to be a part of everything that’s happening in our community,” said Matt LeRoy, a pastor at Love Chapel Hill. “We love this town and we want to help out any way we can.”
Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said longtime residents and students need to work together.
“If you want a town that you deserve, then you need to behave, you need to engage, you need to work like you deserve it,” he said. “When you look around this field here today, you walk around this neighborhood, this is a town that deserves a great community.”
Sophomore Brannum Forsyth, student government’s director of town relations, said he sees strong relationships between residents and students.
“As a student I definitely feel a relationship with these people,” Forsyth said. “It comes down to students and residents talking to one another, and if you can get people talking and have a good time with somebody, you can build a relationship.”
Events like this make an impact on children in the community, Williams said.
“I think it’s important to have the kids involved in everything,” she said. “Let them explore different diversities and just be able to explore and not be so trapped into what’s going on in their particular household.”
Kleinschmidt said the Northside community is more than just houses.
“It’s not the bricks of building, the cars, the streets,” he said. “It’s the people and the relationships that are developed. It’s the kind of community that actually respects and values the relationships between the people and that’s what keeps us so strong.”