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PAWTUCKET â€” It might seem like an unlikely place for a party, but the Lachapelle Funeral Home has been the scene of several lively and enjoyable post-Irene gatherings.
For three consecutive nights since the storm knocked out the neighborhood's power, Christine Lachapelle-Miller and her husband, Bill Miller, have hosted a large-scale cookout at the funeral home at 643 Main St. in Woodlawn. The couple and their four children also make their home above the family business, which was started by Christine's father, Robert Lachapelle, over 50 years ago.
Lachapelle-Miller said she got the idea on Monday when she began to fret about the meat and other perishable products that would soon become unusable in the family's refrigerator and freezer. â€śWe were without power since Sunday, so I knew by Monday that all the food in the fridge was done and everything was starting to thaw in the freezer,â€ť she said. â€śI thought, 'why waste it? Why not just help people out?â€ť
She and Bill threw everything on the grillâ€”steaks, pork chops, hamburgersâ€”and put the word out to their immediate neighbors. However, because the power outage had brought more people out of their dark homes and into the streets, the cook-out attendees quickly grew. So, too, did the spirit of comradery and good cheer, as strangers who lived near each other but who never had the occasion to meet one another began to mingle and chat.
The cook-out was so well-received and appreciated that Christine and Bill decided to host another one on Tuesday night. This time, however, they had to buy more food, but the second night's menu of hot dogs, sausages, and chips drew even more participants. The friendly, neighborhood cook-out turned into something of an impromptu block party. â€śI would guess that we had between 50 and 75 people here. Some people came from a few streets over, as the word got out,â€ť Lachapelle-Miller said. â€śIt's been really nice.â€ť
With no end to the power outage in sight, the couple told the Tuesday night attendees that they would be grilling again on Wednesday night. While Lachapelle-Miller was happy to discover that her electricity had been restored by late Wednesday morning, she said that she and her family were still intending to hold that evening's cook-out as planned.
Lachapelle-Miller noted that for all of the inconveniences and frustrations that the power outage caused, it also brought people out of their houses and apartments and created a social setting that wouldn't have occurred otherwise. â€śPeople had an opportunity to meet each other and talk,â€ť she said. â€śIt has really brought the community together, and you don't have a lot of opportunity to do that.â€ť