VAN WYCK -- Neighbors in Van Wyck don't just share a community center and a few annual festivals. Residents say they also share their lives.
Everyone knows about Van Wyck's annual festivals, including Celebrate Van Wyck in the fall and the Lighting of the Way in December. But every week there is something for families in Van Wyck to do, according to long-time resident Betty Broome.
The community of Van Wyck encompasses the three-mile radius around the Van Wyck Post Office, including some areas east of Hwy. 521, behind Andrew Jackson State Park.
The hub of Van Wyck activity is the Community Center on Old Hickory Road in the heart of Van Wyck.
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Recently, residents gathered at the community center for an Easter Egg Hunt.
On Monday evenings, residents can be found kicking up their heels at line dancing lessons in the community center.
Last Sunday, a bean supper was be held at the community center to raise funds for the lighting on the track.
On May 17, the Community Development Club will hold its spring fundraiser - a yard sale. Behind the community center, neighbors frequently meet on the outdoor track to exercise together.
These weekly events bind the bedroom community's residents, according to community leaders. Most are sponsored by either the Van Wyck Women's Club or the Community Development Club, said Broome, who is a charter member of the Women's Club and the secretary of the Community Development Club.
"A lot of times the school is the center of community activity, but we don't have that, so the women's club and the community development group are the glue," Broome said.
The Community Development Club is responsible for running Van Wyck's annual festivals, with proceeds used largely to keep the community center running. But this year, the club added philanthropy to their mission.
As a tribute to Gerald Sullivan, a club member who died last year, the Community Development Club handed out scholarships to five Van Wyck seniors: Jennifer Awbrey, Mitchell Ayers, Laurin Sistare, Travis Anderson, and Hannah Bishop.
The Community Development Club maintains property around Van Wyck, President Richard Vaughn said. He jokes that the group is like a traditional Home Owner's Association in some ways.
"But a lot more fun, with a lot less restrictions," Vaughn said.
Van Wyck hasn't yet seen the growth the rest of the Panhandle has, but residents realize it is just a matter of time.
New families are moving into the area slowly and are being welcomed to the community events that bring residents together.
Coming to the events is a great way for residents to get to know each other, said Women's Club President Faith Broome.
"We really always have things going on here in the community," Faith Broome said. "It's a busy community, and the people here love it so much. Everyone is really involved. We pretty much have to take care of ourselves. We want to be sure we have things here for families and children to participate in."