August 20th will be a busy Sunday in South River. Michelle Thissen, the Chief Executive Officer of the South River-Machar Union Public Library, says a huge block party is planned that day to commemorate the library’s 50th anniversary. Rocco Frangione/Local Journalism Initiative Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative

The South River-Machar Union Public Library turns 50 years old this year and the library is celebrating the occasion with a massive block party on August 20th.

Library CEO Michelle Thissen says the block party will take place in the parking lot and green space next to the library on Marie Street. Thissen says the event will have a 50s theme and will be capped off in the evening with an outdoor screening of the movie Grease projected on a 6′ by 9′ screen. Thissen says vendors are part of the block party and they will have crafts and baked goods for sale.

The event includes food trucks plus there will be music provided either through a live band or DJ service. Thissen is working on having a photo booth at the event and the library will also hold its annual book sale during the block party.

Since the event is being promoted as family friendly, Thissen says there will be activities for children which include relay races and prizes for the winners.

Thissen moved to the area last year from Southern Ontario to become the library’s CEO. She says like herself, other people have moved to the area over the last few years and don’t know what services are offered.

To increase that public awareness, Thissens plans to have several non-profit vendors at the block party who can tell the public about their services.

Thissen’s daughter is a special events planner who has agreed to decorate the block party site.

While South River has had a library for more than 50 years, there was no library in Machar. Thissen says what is being celebrated is the agreement 50 years ago to add Machar to the mix to form the present library. 

Nowadays the library is located in the second half of the municipal building at 63 Marie Street. Before making the move to the present site, the library was in the basement of the previous town hall building. Thissen says the current site is much larger with more shelf space and brighter plus it offers numerous kids and adult programs.  

Thissen is trying to keep the cost of the birthday celebration down by using existing resources but she is also on the hunt for sponsors. She’s hopeful one of the sponsors can help buy a large birthday cake.

“Last year on Canada Day the municipality had a 2′ by 3′ cake and at the end of the day there was very little of it left,” she said. “We suspect our birthday cake will be about that size.”

The block party birthday celebration idea came from Thissen. When she arrived as the new CEO last December she started by moving things around and found the wall plaque detailing the creation of the South River-Machar Union Public Library. With the 50th anniversary just around the corner, she suggested the block party celebration to the library board “and the members were really excited about it”.

Thissen adds news of what the library is planning is circulating through both communities and there is now some anticipation for the upcoming party.

There is no admission charge to the block party which is August 20th from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and that is followed by the movie.

“Make sure you bring your lawn chairs or blankets to sit on,” Thissen said so they can be comfortable when watching Grease.

Thissen said although library staff, board members and some library patrons will be helping to pull off a successful event, she can still use more volunteers. She says adult volunteers are welcome. However she adds the event is also a great way for students from Almaguin Highlands Secondary School to acquire some of their 40 hours of community work. Potential volunteers can send an email to to help with the block party.

By Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative

Original Published on May 04, 2023 at 09:44

This item reprinted with permission from   North Bay Nugget   North Bay, Ontario
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