Orange Park, FL

Orange Park plans to host annual ‘The Longest Table’ event

Julie Morgan

The goal of The Longest Table is to help "neighbors get to know neighbors."

Former Orange Park Mayor Connie Thomas spearheaded the first event in 2020. It happened pre-COVID lockdowns on a chilly February evening. Last year the event was in April.

The Longest Table is free to attend but you must register via Eventbrite.

This year's community gathering is scheduled for Saturday, May 21, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in front of Moosehaven on River Road.

You are allowed to bring your own food and alcoholic beverages. However, three "Clay County-based food trucks" will be on-site with food available to purchase. Not Your Daddy's Ribs, Café Ybor Food Bus, and Gala Ice are scheduled to be there.

At Tuesday night's council meeting, Town Manager Sarah Campbell said the event "is struggling."

"Logistically, we can pull it off. The question is, is anybody going to come?"

Campbell explained that the event's success would require council and community members to pitch in by not only attending but also encouraging others to attend as well.

"To me, this is what epitomizes where we need to be in our communities these days. We've lost touch with family reunions, talking about how your day goes at the table. We've lost touch with working families having to hold down two jobs, and it's hard to get a dinner. It's even more hard to have a time when we have this kind of community connection with various genders and classes. This is what I want to see more of," said one resident at the first event.

Event organizers are still looking for volunteers to be table hosts. Table hosts will get conversations going and take brief notes. Table hosts must be at least 21 and Orange Park residents.

There's also a need for general volunteers to help the "event run smoothly." General volunteers can be anyone over the age of 16. So, if your pre-college teen needs community service hours, this is an opportunity to earn them.

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