Rutland Herald | June 28, 2017
By PATRICK MCARDLE
Saturday will offer a chance for local residents, especially those living in the Northwest neighborhood, to live their hoop dreams.
NeighborWorks of Western Vermont will host “Hula Hoop Hoopla” in the Community Green Space on Library Avenue.
“It’s a brand new event and we’re really excited about it,” said Bianca Zanella, an AmeriCorps member and community engagement and revitalization specialist for NeighborWorks.
“It allows people to not only get together and engage with their neighbors, as do all of our events, but also be a little more active and outside,” she said. “Everyone will be able to take home a hula hoop and practice that skill and bond with their neighbors over that skill of hooping,”
Visitors to the event will be able to learn some hula-hoop spins, tricks and games, eat healthy snacks and take home a hoop of their own they can make and decorate at an on-site workshop.
Dawn Smith-Pliner will perform and facilitate hula hoop games such as the classic spin and pass, rabbit hole and hula hoop high.
“I am probably bringing my personal flair into this with this role because I’m a hooper. I was taking inspiration for this event from SolarFest, which used to happen in the Danby (and) Tinmouth area,” said Zanella.
Zanella said she had a “ beautiful experience” with hooping at SolarFest, where she not only learned the skill but also made new friends.
“I wanted to bring this idea and inspiration and joy to the Northwest neighborhood. It’s also such a fun activity to have with kids and children of all ages,” she said.
The Hula Hoop Hoopla is one of several events that NeighborWorks has organized in the once-troubled Northwest neighborhood that has become the focus of a revitalization project.
“We were really ambitious with our outdoor calendar this summer,” she said. “We were really lucky at NeighborWorks to have two AmeriCorps members dedicated to community engagement and revitalization.”
Zanella has also come to recent meetings of the Board of Aldermen to encourage elected officials to attend the various events. She said she hoped elected officials would see it as a different way to interact with Rutlanders.
A summer festival with live music drew more than 400 people earlier this month.
Zanella said the dual goals of the events were to bring people into the Northwest neighborhood who might not otherwise visit and to give the residents more reasons to feel proud of the area.
A federal Promise Community grant, as well as funding from Neighbor- Works national organization, has allowed the local NeighborWorks chapter to keep the events free.
The community green space on Library Avenue has inspired many of the events, Zanella said, because it provides a home for outdoor events like the Hoopla and the summer festival.
Zanella said she’ s excited about a Northwest neighborhood scavenger hunt on July 29.
A complete calendar of events for the Northwest neighborhood can be found on the Facebook page for NeighborWorks of Western Vermont.
Zanella also pointed out some forecasts have called for rain on Saturday. She encouraged potential visitors to the Hoopla to check the Facebook page before making the trip because the event will be postponed if the weather is bad.
NeighborWorks is seeking volunteers to help with the different hoop game stations and volunteer hoopers to share their talents in a live show. Potential volunteers should contact Zanella at bzanella@ nwwvt.org.