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. Barbie says:

    I loved this post! What a simply wonderful idea! Very Very inspiring!

  2. jenny says:

    Gorgeous party. Gorgeous neighborhood.

  3. pat says:

    Jane, we miss you. Every bit of this party is you. xoxo

  4. Barbara says:


  5. Hosta99 says:

    Karen, your faithful reporting and gorgeous photos bring back happy memories of the first Marche Nocturne. My brother in law forwarded me your blog as it was our beloved sister being remembered. Sadly most of the siblings couldn’t be in Dundas this year as we live in Europe, but MN seems to have taken on a life of its own. Few can be so blessed as to be part of a community such as Dundas. Before even moving there our darling sis fell in love with the town. Dundas fell in love with her right back. The people there are extraordinary. It was heartwarming to read some others’ similar experiences in their own communities and know that it is not unique. However, what is unique about Marche Nocturne is the woman it honours and the town and friends that pulled together to surround her and our family with love and support that still continues today, almost three years on. Thank you for sharing your experience of being part of it.

    • Karen says:

      You’re most welcome. It was a very special event for what must have been an incredibly special person. ~ karen!

  6. andrea meyers says:

    i want to live there!

  7. Anne says:

    Hi Karen. Thank you. What a thoughtful tribute to share with us – not only raising dollars but also gathering and nurturing a sense of community.

    In my work with charities, we often talk about the real meaning of the efforts. Your neighbourhood gathering so beautifully allowed people to connect with others in a meaningful way to honour a special life and cause. I can’t imagine that anyone who attended didn’t feel a deeper sense of purpose and happiness. So well done.

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