Aussie council's 'beautiful' act for neighbours: 'Super cool'

An Australian council has been inundated with praise after a “beautiful” photo of neighbours gathered on their street was posted online.

Michael Slack, a traffic controller from Adelaide, told Yahoo News Australia he was asked by Port Adelaide Enfield Council on Sunday to close down a residential street for five hours.

“I rock up and close said road but it made no sense — [there was] no construction equipment or anything,” he said, adding that he was shocked when numerous people started walking out of their houses with tables and chairs.

Mr Slack said he was confused as he watched the group of roughly 10 people sit down with food and drinks and begin chatting to each other. “I actually had no idea what was going on until one of them came and spoke to me,” he said.

Michael Slack and the neighbours meeting for their Christmas party in the street closed down by council.
Traffic controller Michael Slack said he was stunned to learn an Adelaide council had paid to close down a street so residents could host a Christmas party. Source: Michael Slack/Facebook

“Turns out every year the council shuts [the street] down for them for one night so they can have their Christmas party.” The traffic controller said he understands the street has held the event for the last few years.

Inspired by the “beautiful” act, Mr Slack posted an image of the Christmas party on an Australia wide traffic control Facebook page, saying his was stunned councils were willing to close residential roads down so neighbours can mingle.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” he said. “I thought it was a wonderful gesture.” Sadly, the party didn’t last long as it started to pour with rain, forcing the friendly residents to “pack up real quick”.

Adelaide council responds

A spokesperson for the Port Adelaide Enfield Council told Yahoo News Australia the event would have been part of its “neighbourhood gatherings project”, which “makes it easy for residents to get a small grant to do something which brings their street together”.

According to the council’s website, the initiative hopes to encourage people to host community celebrations and neighbourhood gatherings for up to 100 people in public places by covering the cost of street closures and insurance. Events can also take place in a local park, garden or footpath for a maximum of four hours and anyone living in the community can apply by filling out a simple form.

“The School Holidays, Christmas and New Year are all fast approaching. These special cultural events make an excellent opportunity to organise a get-together. But you don't need any special reason to organise a gathering!” the council says. Footage posted to its YouTube channel has captured other events held under the same grant program, showing neighbours coming together to help one another.

'A wonderful idea'

Mr Slack’s Facebook post has drawn a huge reaction from other Aussies surprised to learn such a program exists, with one man deeming it “super cool”.

“Amazing! There should be more of this! People getting together and enjoying each other’s company,” another person wrote, while someone else said it was a “wonderful idea.”

One woman said she was attending a street Christmas party at the time of commenting. “Yep. We are sitting at one now. Same deal. Council pay for us to be here so the locals can mingle and kids can ride bikes safely,” she said.

“You can also request this of most councils and some make you pay but it’s really nice to rock up to an event where they shut the road and the neighbours treat you like one of them,” another person said. “I know of many streets who do this for all different occasions.”

While it is unknown if councils across Australia offer the same initiative, Mr Slack said he learned several others in Adelaide do. Finding out if your street is eligible could be as easy as a quick email.

In October, the City of Sydney kicked off its Sydney Streets program, during which a different suburb hosted a street party each Saturday. Following its Spring run, the program will return again next year from January to April.

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