Street Party with a Heart

It’s funny how big things can be going on around you and you aren’t even remotely aware of them.

I discovered one of those big things last weekend.

A few months ago I was invited to judge a pie contest. It was for an event in my town called Marche Nocturne. I had never heard of this event, which isn’t surprising since it takes place on a single street and has only been going on for 2 years. (this was its third year)

It’s an outdoor dinner party to remember a much loved neighbour who died of Pancreatic Cancer a few years ago. The first dinner was a gathering of neighbours from the street who wanted to pay tribute to a friend and raise money for Pancreatic cancer research at the same time.

The second year the dinner was larger with neighbours, friends and family invited.

This year the dinner saw the entire street shut down, with hundreds of people coming to honour a woman who many of them had never even met. Tables covered with flower filled mason jars and red check table cloths ran the entire length of the street.

The totals aren’t in yet for this year, but in the first two years, that street party raised $35,000 for cancer research.

The entire event is run and organized by the residents of the street. Invited guests arrive with picnic baskets filled with dinner fixings for themselves like salads, fresh bread, and side dishes. Then for $10 a plate, everyone heads to a HUGE BBQ area to buy a plate of chicken and ribs. More money is raised through a live auction of artwork, jewellery and other donated items.

It was perhaps the best example of an organically developed fundraiser I’ve ever been to.

Plus the prettiest. Everyone was asked to dress in summer whites with the option to wear a summer hat as well. Everyone was incredibly friendly and in a good mood, with kids and dogs running around covered in pie and BBQ sauce. It was like the Great Gatsby meets Honey Boo Boo.

There was a definite party vibe in the air and everyone was there to have a good time but the reason and meaning behind the night wasn’t lost.

Every single person knew why they were there that night and you could feel it.

Marche Nocturne 19
Marche Nocturne 1
Marche Nocturne 2
Marche Nocturne 3
Marche Nocturne 18
Marche Nocturne 8
Marche Nocturne 5
Marche Nocturne 6
Marche Nocturne 7
Marche Nocturne 9
Marche Nocturne 4
Marche Nocturne 11
Marche Nocturne 12- Bread
Marche Nocturne 13
Picnic Baskets
Marche Nocturne 16
Marche Nocturne 14
Marche Nocturne 15
Marche Nocturne 17


Want to know the best part of this event?  Anyone, anywhere could organize the exact same thing.

Want to know the worst part?  Anyone, anywhere could have the need to.



  1. SK Farm Girl says:

    I am reading this in wee early hours of July 3. Two years ago today I lost the most important woman in my life; my mentor, my hero, my beloved Aunt June. She fought a long, painful and very courage battle to cancer. Reading this on the anniversary of her passing, adds to the emotions that having been simmering over the last few days. This type of event is just the kind of thing my Aunty would have organized – right down to the hats! Thank you for your post, Karen. You have the incredible talent of telling a story that evokes the very emotion felt at that “party” and your pictures truly capture the beauty, the simplicity and camaraderie shared at such a wonderful event. Thank you for providing me with inspiration for our outdoor, Summer Solstice, wedding next summer – checkered tablecloths, mason jars of flowers, summer whites and in lieu of gifts donations to a cause that was near and dear to my (now deceased) papa – The Children’s Wish Foundation! God bless you and all your readers, Karen <3

  2. marilyn says:

    thats why i love our town..xo

  3. Jen says:

    This is the perfect example of community.
    So inspiring. Looked delish!

  4. Bols says:

    Wow, that looks amazing and the pictures of the food (the carrot and red beet(??) salad and the bbq-ed chicken) made me drool. It looks better than pictures in Bon Appetit!

  5. stephbo93 says:

    APGreat idea! My friends organized a DIY 5k in honor of a family member who died unexpectedly. They sell t shirts to raise money for scholarships for 2 kids per year. They pick a day for the 5k, and it’s up to the participants to decide what time, where, and how to do it. It has spread over multiple continents, multiple cities and states. Many run or walk, but at least one was done on a kayak this year. It’s awesome.

  6. Anna says:

    Is that author, raconteur, bon vivant and Hamilton native Stephen Brunt in the second last picture?

  7. Chau says:

    That’s an awsome event. I wish I were there.

  8. Amy in StL says:

    Wow in the city here, it’s an amazing event if most neighbors even speak to you! I can’t imagine them coming out of their homes for this, truly a great spectacle!

  9. Linda S in NE says:

    Thanks for sharing this event with us. The photos are beautiful, and the event even more beautiful.

  10. Joanna says:

    All good things!!!! Thank you so much!!!!

  11. Linda says:

    What a lovely tribute to a lost friend of their neighbourhood! Your pictures truly evoked their sense of “community”,it seems to be lost these days in most neighbourhoods. I especially loved the picnic baskets. Thank You for sharing.

  12. Jeannie B says:

    Wonderful, beautiful photos Karen! A lovely tribute to a lovely lady, taken too soon by a terrible affliction.Her family, her neighbours and her friends all helped to raise money for research and you documented the event. Touching! Her memory lives on.

  13. Shauna says:

    A great writer, I believe, can evoke a variety of emotions from the reader. You Karen, are a great writer.

  14. Andrea A says:

    Something similar happened in my neighborhood when I was a teenager.

    A young boy was terminally ill and his “wish” was to go trick or treating. His short life was coming to a close much too fast, so even though it was the middle of summer the children of our neighborhood got all dressed up in costumes, each house bought some candy, and “Trick or Treat in the Heat” was born.

    The little boy passed a few weeks after the event and I remember feeling the entire neighborhood in mourning. His wish really helped our neighborhood become a close knit community.

    The next year, his family celebrated the anniversary of his wish by asking us to repeat it. Not only did the children collect candy, the neighborhood collected donations for several charities that affected the family’s life. By the third year, we had many outside the neighborhood wishing to participate so wristbands were sold to help raise money for the supporting charities.

    Last year, with the support of some local businesses, the event:
    ~was expanded to 4 neighborhoods
    ~had over 3,700 children participate
    ~raised $43,656 for charity (100% of the proceeds were donated)

    It feels like this benefit is constantly growing and expanding. Even though I don’t live in that same neighborhood (or even the same state!), I really hope to start a local chapter of the event. It was a wonderful tradition when I was growing up, and I know it has really made a difference in the lives of that family and many others.

    If you would like to learn more about Trick or Treat in the Heat, you can visit

  15. Brenda says:

    WOW!!!! Just………… :)

  16. Robyn says:

    Fantastic, just fantastic! Your post has warmed my heart and put a smile on my face, a great way to begin my day!

    Thank you for the inspiration, and for sharing such a beautiful act of humanity at its best!:D

  17. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Thanks for sharing this Karen..I wish I had neighbors like that..She must have been a wonderful lady..

  18. So wonderfully amazing!

  19. ruth says:

    Simply awesome.

  20. Amie says:

    This is such a wonderful idea! I love seeing photos of street dinner parties in the UK, such as those from the Jubilee last year. And it’s even more wonderful to see on closer to home, and for such a great cause.

    I’m curious, were any of the pies “true pies” and would be approved of by the Fella’s father?

  21. toekneetoni says:

    :D thanks for sharing the lovely evening.

  22. Wonderful uplifting story, great photos too.

  23. Lisa says:

    Gorgeous, they should be very proud.

  24. Hope says:

    Ditto on the goosebumps! Great event and idea on so many levels! So did a real pie win?

  25. Mary Werner says:

    Great post! I loved the picture you took of one woman touching another’s arm and both smiling. I loved your ending sentiment. Thanks for bringing it home to us.

  26. Mary Kay says:

    What a beautiful street and tribute. The homes and those picnic baskets were just awesome. I am so glad you were able to share with us. PS the food looked pretty fabulous too!

  27. Carolyn says:

    Absolutely beautiful and touching.

  28. Rondina says:

    A street with soul.

  29. Jake says:

    Beautiful idea, lovely old houses, great neighbourhood the food looks super, what could be better. Perhaps the reason for the whole idea.

  30. Thera says:

    Heart stopping. Thank you.

  31. Lori says:

    Great post, Karen. GREAT post.

  32. Diane says:


  33. ev says:

    An inspired event, indeed. Thanks Karen.

  34. Nancy says:

    Powerful reminder!

  35. Natika says:

    An amazing grassroots event. Your last two lines were poetic, beautiful and haunting.

  36. Fran says:

    The people in our town are great and that includes you. By the way,which pie won?

    • Karen says:

      Fran – An entire post devoted to the pie judging will go up next Monday. Including the winner! :) ~ karen!

  37. Suanne says:

    Amen…and amen!

  38. mayr says:

    Beautiful.Just beautiful.

  39. Anita says:

    I visited Weir’s Lane Lavender farm this past weekend and on our way to Oakville- we drove thru Dundas. I want to come live in Dundas. I wanted to come stalk you, but thought better and kept driving. Your little neck of the woods is lovely. I am so jealous.

  40. Darlene says:

    I SO want to be there!

  41. Jody says:

    What a wonderful celebration of life with purpose and community spirit. Well done to the organizers.

  42. Mary says:

    Our version of a chicken BBQ here looks nothing like that, how amazing it looks!

  43. ericmiami says:

    Bravo to the community, and kudos to Karen for the exceptional photography.

  44. Really lovely event!

  45. JebberA says:


  46. Amie Mason says:

    Wow! What a beautiful neighborhood! Simply lovely.

  47. Pati says:

    I enjoyed that VERY much, Karen ! Wish I could have have gone to it. :)

  48. Cathy says:

    Thank you, Karen. That was delightful.

  49. Marti says:

    Great pictures. Great idea. And great message at the end. Well done!

  50. Laura Bee says:

    Ahh, goosebumps. Lovely tribute.

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