Together in diversity

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In 1974, when the city of Suffolk merged with the city of Nansemond (which had previously been Nansemond County), many leaders of the newly constituted municipality expected one of the results to be an eventual coming together of folks from both communities into a cohesive whole. One can imagine the architects of the merger thinking, “Well, we’re all Suffolkians now.”

Forty years later, the jury is still out on how successful the merger was in bringing folks together from the far reaches of Suffolk’s more than 400 square miles of land. Even city officials still catch themselves referring, for example, to North Suffolk as a separate entity, as evidenced by the fact that the library in Bennett’s Creek is called the North Suffolk Public Library.

In fact, there has been a resurgence of interest by people in various parts of the city in a localism that makes them residents of Whaleyville or Holland or Chuckatuck or Driver or any of the several other historical communities and neighborhoods, before they identify themselves as residents of Suffolk. Even the city’s voting boroughs attest to the differences people in various parts of Suffolk feel from their brethren in other areas still known on the map as “Suffolk.”

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The truth is that we are all citizens of our own neighborhoods first, citizens of our communities second and citizens of Suffolk third. Ask someone from the Suffolk Borough where they live, and you’ll likely hear “Saratoga” or “Riverview” or “Hollywood.” The same is true around the city.

Folks in Chuckatuck have joined the parade of folks celebrating their communities. They will do so again on Saturday with the third annual Chuckatuck Founders Day event, which was created by the Greater Chuckatuck Historical Foundation.

There will be a parade, kids’ activities, entertainment, Halloween and pet costume contests, antique cars, vendors and the dedication of a fire truck to the late Jerry Saunders, former chief of the village’s volunteer fire department. Events get under way with the parade at 10:30 a.m.

Founders Day is a great time for folks with roots in Chuckatuck to get back together and renew friendships. It’s also a good time for people from other parts of the city to head to “downtown Chuckatuck” and see what a nice little community it is.

After all, we might each be citizens of our own neighborhoods, but we’re also citizens of the larger city of Suffolk, which has come together in its diversity.