Antioch Baptist Church block party draws another big crowd

Mayor Gabriel J. Campana presented Pastor Sam Washington of the Antioch Baptist Church with a key to the city of Williamsport at the church’s annual block party Wednesday night.

Sam Washington and the Antioch Baptist Church have been throwing their block party for 22 years.

“At this point it runs like clockwork,” Washington said. “Every year the number of volunteers increases and the party gets bigger.”

This year’s additions were new games for the kids. A water gun fight course had a constant line of at east 10 little ones, some waiting for their third run through. Children also could soak their friends by hitting a button that dropped an entire bucket of water on them and, for those who wanted to go home dry, there were pony rides, bounce houses and face painting.

Lisa Washington, Pastor Sam’s wife, said she loves the diverse group that shows up every year.

“No matter our cultures or our economic backgrounds people come together here,” she said.

And did they come together. Hundreds of attendees flooded the two block radius off High Street Wednesday. Families from Williamsport and all over came to dance to the live music, eat homemade food and spend time with friends in the community.

The Spigelmyer family – though they traveled from Lewisburg – were running into friends left and right. They walked around the lively party with their two daughters in tow. The girls only took breaks from their free hot dogs to express their excitement about the party attractions.

“We rode on the hayride,” five-year-old Payton said, “and I go on the ponies next.”

Dave Peterman and Darren Harriman’s horse-drawn hayride was a big hit. About halfway through the party, Harriman estimated that almost 100 people had enjoyed a jaunt around the block.

Over a dozen vendors showed up for this year’s celebration and volunteers from the Williamsport Area School District helped prepare and serve.

Though their stand had some competition. The smell of homemade pierogies, chicken and rice and tacos danced around the crowd while the voices of live entertainers carried blocks away.

Volunteers were easy to spot in their bright T-shirts that read #TeamAntioch.

“The community is a team,” Darrick Rizzo, who created the shirts, said. “And it’s not just our church. Anyone who supports the community is a member.”

Rizzo said he incorporated the hashtag on the free shirts as a way to stay current in today’s social media run atmosphere.

“Everything’s got a hashtag now and we want to promote ourselves and our community,” Rizzo said.

Though the weather forecast called for thunderstorms all day, the skies were clear Wednesday evening, welcoming the Antioch Baptist Church and members of the community to celebrate.