Isla Vista Recreation and Park District hosted the second annual Meet Your Neighbors Day Saturday throughout I.V. and presented local art, live music, spoken word, yoga classes and other activities.
The event lasted all day, beginning with a free pancake breakfast in Perfect Park at 10 a.m. and ending with an outdoor movie night at Little Acorn Park at 9 p.m. UCSB’s Excursion Club set up slack lines, face painting and a tie-dye station in Perfect Park and UCSB Real Life gave away burgers, hosted face painting and held games at People’s Park. Other activities throughout the event included a butterfly exhibit, a bounce house and a soccer game with police. Various businesses throughout I.V. offered flyer coupons to Meet Your Neighbors Day attendees.
The new community center on Embarcadero del Mar opened Oct. 17, serving as an art exhibition for the day. The center displayed photographs, paintings and sculptures as well as a stage for an open mic session, a zumba class and yoga.
Curator for the art exhibition and third-year art major Robert Perez said opening the Community Center on Meet Your Neighbors Day was beneficial for both events to attract a large crowd.
“We want to attract as many people as possible to every event,” Perez said. “There’s so much going on today, there’s stages out in Anisq’Oyo’ Park and everywhere, so we thought it made sense to unify everything under Meet Your Neighbor Day.”
Graduate student Aaron Howard said he showcased seven of his photographs of I.V. in the day-long art gallery at the community center.
“I definitely think it’s a good way to bring people together and expose people’s work,” Howard said.
Second-year economics major Taylor Nguyen said she appreciates the art exhibited being part of Meet Your Neighbors Day.
“It’s nice to see the artistic side of the community. I think that is something that is not always highlighted at events, but to see student artwork has been really impressive,” Nguyen said.
Second-year mathematics major Gabriel Pragin said he helped organize Meet Your Neighbors Day and the community center launch. According to Pragin, it is very rewarding to see the event come together and I.V. residents enjoying themselves in the parks.
“It’s supposed to get us all to work together and be friends and meet each other in parks and have a good time listening to music, looking at art,” Pragin said. “It’s a way to get together and just be a community and support each other and have fun together.”
UCSB alumna and intern with the Christian organization Real Life Samantha Urena said Meet Your Neighbors Day is a good opportunity to develop stronger relationships within the community.
“[Meet Your Neighbors Day] create[s] more of a community of respect and compassion and bonding over having some fun on a Saturday afternoon, not just getting drunk and making more acquaintances, but actually becoming friends with some people,” Urena said.
Fourth-year philosophy major Philip Griffin said he enjoyed listening to music and being outdoors during the all-day event.
“[Meet Your Neighbors Day] is a really important event,” Griffin said. “It’s such a small town and we’re all so close it would be nice to have some more events that really unify everyone and create an overall sense of unity and friendship and trust.”