Something different about Driver

Published 10:23 pm Friday, July 28, 2017

There’s just something different about Driver.

Nobody was terribly surprised when the community pulled together after a tornado devastated homes and businesses there in 2008; that’s what communities do when faced with disaster.

But the community spirit in the village of Driver continues unabated nearly 10 years later, and that’s an accomplishment worth noting.

Email newsletter signup

Driver has a small business district whose organization and camaraderie could serve as an example to the much larger and much beleaguered downtown part of Suffolk. Its residents support those few businesses, and the businesses have found some success attracting visitors from outside the community, as well.

The village has continued holding its annual Driver Days celebration in October, 24 years after it started and long after the tornado that brought curious folks back into the community.

Even Driver’s weekly cornhole tournaments demonstrate the community’s resilience and the commitment its residents and businesses have to making things work there.

Ken Parsons, who owns Knot Hole Station, deserves much of the credit for the cornhole tournaments specifically and for the community’s efforts generally to thrive in a way that most folks would not expect for such a small and isolated place.

Parsons started the cornhole tournaments in 2011 as a way to raise money for Page Middle School in Gloucester after that school was struck by a tornado. But long after that fundraising goal was met, the tournaments have continued, and they have raised more than $20,000 for various causes since then.

“He doesn’t take any money back from this,” Suffolk resident Chris Huhtala said of Parsons recently. “It’s 100 percent charity and more.”

Each player donates $2 to a fund that goes towards various charities, including custom cornhole bags and cornhole boards with plaques signed by the various Driver players. Several of these sets have been donated to the USS Harry S. Truman and the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carriers.

Yes, there’s something different about Driver, and it’s just the sort of thing that makes Suffolk such a special place.