For 20 years, a city block party that cordons off Cherry Street has been bringing communities together for a night.
The Antioch Baptist Church Block Party satisfied all of the senses as attendees heard the music even as they approached the event, saw the numerous tables for healthy living and politics, felt the bumpiness of a wagon drawn by horses and, of course, smelled and tasted numerous types of food.
And it was all free.
Two youngsters take in the view as they take a horse-drawn wagon ride, provided by Peterman Farms, of Muncy Valley, during the Antioch Baptist Church annual block party on Wednesday.
With a hot dog in one hand and a lollipop in the other, Madoka Charles, 2, daughter of Matthew and Mihono Charles, of Hughesville, is mesmerized by the music at the block party on Wednesday.
Crowds pack Cherry Street for free food and entertainment during Antioch Baptist’s annual block party on Wednesday.
WAHS auto mechanics instructor Pat Dixon, left, and Principal Mike Reed grill hot dogs and sausages during the Antioch Baptist Church’s annual block party on Wednesday.
Thomas Edmond Whaley III, 5, son of Thomas Whaley Jr., of Williamsport, throws a wet ball at the target at The Big Splash game.
Lisa Adams, of Williamsport, comes every year with her family for a chance to mingle with people she has not seen in a while and to let her son enjoy himself on the rides.
"It gives the kids a chance to get out and run wild," Adams said. "It's always right before school starts. ... They know it's coming."
When she arrived Wednesday night, she said she saw a lot more people this year than she did the previous year.
She was with her 9-year-old niece, Lily, who planned to walk around but avoid the horse-drawn wagon and the horseback ride.
"I want to see my BFF," she said, referencing the acronym for "best friend forever."
While Lily may have been avoiding the horses, they still were popular, said Dorsey Littles, of Williamsport.
His task for the night was to help people take their places on the wagon ride, which went for a few blocks around the city. He estimated that by midway through the event, 300 people already had taken a ride in the wagon.
There was a mixture of kids and adults, with some adults wanting to ride with their children and others just wanting to enjoy it for themselves, he said.
The block party began 20 years ago as a way to bring different communities together to have good, clean fun, said Sam Washington, church pastor. Somebody needed to step up to show that people could come together to party in a constructive way.
Even though the church has had the event for two decades, it still takes an entire month to put everything together because it is has grown so much, he said.
Now it has grown so large that at least four churches participate in the event, bringing different kinds of food, such as Spanish and Italian dishes, to distribute to people for free.
The block party was about more than just food, though.
People danced in the grass as bands played and then danced on the stage when invited to join during popular songs, such as the Cupid Shuffle, where a large group of young and old people were told to move right and left and kick.
Games were set up so children could win prizes, such as candy and slap bracelets. Similar to a dunk tank, children could throw a wet ball at a target, which would dump a bucket of water on the person sitting on a chair. Children also could test their basketball and baseball skills at other games throughout the street.
Priscilla Davis, of Newberry, brought her children out to the block party for a fun night.
"It's enjoyable," she said. "It's great for the community. It brings the community together."