Roundup brings Bostonians back home
Despite a persistent rain, hundreds flocked to Drayton Pines Park Saturday for the 20th Annual Boston Roundup.
Essentially a large-scale community reunion for those who grew up or are otherwise connected to the historic Boston neighborhood, the Roundup has grown considerably since it began in 1993, according to Sharon Wright, the president and a founding member of the Roundup Committee.
“We started attending with 300 people,” Wright said. “On a good day, we have over 5,000 people touching this field. Who would have thought we’d last this long?”
Wright, the youngest of six children in her family, grew up in Boston, a sprawling community centered around University Parkway, 14th and Cherry streets. She remembers a close-knit neighborhood where residents took care of one another.
“I can remember my neighbors being sort of like my parents. I didn’t only have to answer to my biological parents, I had to answer to my extended mothers and Lord, that was hard,” said Wright, whose mother Grace Puryear Wright is among the oldest living Bostonians at age 93. “…We were self sufficient – we didn’t need anything from the outside world – we had everything.”
Winston-Salem native Deidre Patterson moved away from the Boston community as a child, but says the neighborhood still holds a special place in her heart.
“I was raised and born over here and I didn’t forget where I came from,” said the mother of two. “It means a lot to see everybody you grew up with, that they’re still in the land of the living.”
Patterson, who served free hot dogs and candy to the young and not so young at Saturday’s Roundup, said she looks forward to attending the gathering each year.
“I like to be around the kids – they love it,” said the grandmother of one, who now resides on Carver School Road. “Even the adults love it.”
Deronda Kee-Lucas, director of the City of Winston-Salem’s Department of Community Assistance, attends the Roundup every year. The native Bostonian said she is happy to lend her professional support to an event that means so much to her on a personal level.
“The history is so strong for me. This park was named for my pastor, Dr. Jerry Drayton, who was the pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church for 62 years, so I have history here,” Kee-Lucas said. “This is always something special for me, not just for work, but for the fellowship. It’s a work requirement that I enjoy.”
Kee-Lucas, who has served the city for nearly three decades, said the ever-growing attendance at the Roundup is proof that the future is bright for Boston.
“We are still here, still thriving,” Kee-Lucas remarked. “We’re still dedicated to our community and we still love Boston.”
Mayor Allen Joines has attended the event for the past 12 years.
“This is just such a great event. We were just talking about how it’s matured over the years,” he noted in his remarks Saturday. “It’s so important that we come back together and remember the heritage of this area – the Boston area – and celebrate the many individuals who helped make this community special. As the story goes, we’re standing on their shoulders.”
Joe White, 45, a lifelong Boston resident, said the community has undergone some pretty significant changes over the years.
“It was a lot different than what it is now,” White said. “Everything you can name has changed, but it all changed for the best.”
As in years past, White was joined at the Roundup by fellow members of Brothers and Sisters of Soul, a community service group of current and former Bostonians that supports children and families in the neighborhood.
The Brothers and Sisters’ spirits couldn’t be dampened by the rain; they were grateful just to be together once again, White said.
“We’re all going to have a good time, and I can see it coming – I can feel it – because we’re all still here,” declared the grandfather of 17. “The rain can’t stop this. This has been a tradition for years.”
Police Chief Barry Rountree was also among those in attendance. He said community gatherings such as the Roundup provide a valuable opportunity for the Police Department to foster stronger relationships with the community members it serves.
“That’s exactly the type of things we want to be involved in so we can help improve our relationship with the community,” said Rountree, who took office earlier this summer. “…Those are the kinds of things that make it fun, just to come back and talk to people and just hearing some of their stories.”
Ten-year-old Myana James said she looks forward to attending the Roundup with her grandmother Merita James and other members of the James family each year.
“We usually come. Our family sets up a tent each year and we come out and just enjoy the festivities and just have a good time,” explained Merita James, who grew up in the now defunct Kimberly Park Terrace community nearby. “She gets school stuff and gets to play around. It’s just a time of family.”
“It’s fun,” Myana added. “You get to see family and friends and talk to different people that you haven’t seen before.”