Community comes together to share meal

News Photo by Julie Goldberg Community members gather at the Pedestrian Bridge behind Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center Sunday for The Longest Table event.

ALPENA — Around 80 people gathered Sunday at the Pedestrian Bridge behind the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center for The Longest Table.

The event brought people from different community groups together to talk about the community and learn more about each other. It was sponsored by the United Way of Northeast Michigan, the Alpena Downtown Development Authority, and Who Is My Neighbor?

DDA Executive Director Anne Gentry said Sonya Thomas, former executive director for United Way, helped plan the event in Alpena before stepping down, after seeing the event take place in other cities like Dayton, Ohio.

“It’s essentially a long table that we place in our community and we sent invitations to different community members to sit down and meet new people and form new connections,” Gentry said.

This was the first year for the event, Gentry said, and everyone was really pleased with the turnout because no one knew what to expect. She said a few weeks ago, there were about 30 people preregistered, and by the time the event took place Sunday, 80 people showed up, filling every seat.

“We could not be more pleased with the turnout and hopefully we can expand it to include more people,” Gentry said.

Each table had a host who kept the conversations going. People also enjoyed a meal, which included sub sandwiches, watermelon, chips, and water.

People from different organizations, like the Boys & Girls Club of Alpena, Alpena Senior Citizens Center, Alpena County Library, and others, were at the event. Gentry said people sat by people they didn’t know or people they may not talk to on a daily basis.

“We tried to split people up as much as possible, especially if they came with someone else, just to get them to meet new people,” she said.

Julie Goldberg can be reached at 989-358-5688 or jgoldberg@thealpenanews.com. Follow her on Twitter @jkgoldberg12.