COEYMANS — With the summer of 2018 quickly coming to a close, Riverview Missionary Baptist Church threw its biggest party of the year in late August, and the entire community was invited.
Last weekend the church held its annual block party with a bounce house, dunking booth, pony rides, a petting zoo, food and, of course, plenty of music.
“We started this as something for the church, like a barbecue, but then we decided to open it up to the community, and then we started adding things — like the dunking booth, the pony rides — and at Bible study we said the children should identify with the community, so we started giving out backpacks as well,” said the Rev. Antonio Booth.
The school backpacks, donated by TCI and the Port of Coeymans, were filled with school supplies purchased with church member donations. The church has handed out backpacks at the annual block party for the past four years. Any leftover backpacks would be given to the local elementary schools for children who need them.
This year, the church had 117 backpacks to give out.
The block party, meanwhile, had something for everyone.
“This is my favorite day of the whole summer, and maybe the entire year,” said Ravena resident Patti Dodway, who came to the block party with several friends from her housing development. “It is an absolutely fun family day. You can sit and socialize, and the cookout is phenomenal. And, it is all free.”
“I just love it,” Dodway added. “People from the church come every year to the development to invite everyone to the block party.”
For some of the younger set, the pony rides and the petting zoo were special attractions. The pony rides were paid for by TCI, which has done so for roughly the past four years.
“I liked the ponies the best,” said Tatiana Velazquez, 9. “I took a ride and they are my favorite animal.”
Her friend, Miracle Mann, 10, agreed.
“I also liked riding the horses,” Miracle said. “I really liked that.”
The block party is now in its ninth year, according to Booth. Next year, however, there will be a change in schedule when the festivities will instead be held in July, at the end of the church’s summer camp, Booth said. The entire community will still be invited, but it will give the summer camp kids a way to bid adieu to the program.
Each year, the block party gives Riverview Missionary Baptist Church the chance to be involved with the entire community and reach beyond the church walls.
“We are trying to be a church that is reaching out to the community,” Booth said. “We know there are families that don’t have money to go to amusement parks, so this is a nice alternative.”
Jami Vega watched as her son took a spin on one of the ponies, a big smile lighting up his face.
“I brought my son and my nephew,” Vega said. “They are having a good time. They especially enjoy the goats in the petting zoo and the bounce house. They went on the ponies twice already.”