Fayette County

Wedding celebration becomes community event

Cliff Birch served barbecue to Dorothy Hale and others during a community reception Saturday at Duncan Park after the wedding of Christian Torp and Tanya Ferguson.
Cliff Birch served barbecue to Dorothy Hale and others during a community reception Saturday at Duncan Park after the wedding of Christian Torp and Tanya Ferguson. Lexington Herald-Leader

When you see a voter-registration table at a wedding reception, you know it's no ordinary post-wedding shindig.

Likewise, there were inflatable "bounce houses" and games for children, and volunteers handing out donated clothing, canned goods and toiletries to those in need.

And there were people of all races and ages and backgrounds dancing to Cupid Shuffle.

It was the kind of wedding that Tanya Ferguson and Christian Torp wanted: a community event they could share with the neighborhood around Lexington's Duncan Park.

"We just wanted everybody to come, have an awesome time and get to know each other," Tanya Torp said Saturday, minutes after the wedding at Greater Soul Deliverance Apostolic Tabernacle across the street from the park.

And plenty of people from the surrounding area did attend.

Cleveland Ridley pushed a wheelchair occupied by his wife, Janet, who suffers from a back malady. He carried cotton candy; she munched popcorn.

"I think this is what the community needs," Cleveland Ridley said. "I mean, it keeps everybody out of trouble. The kids are having fun."

"They need to do events more often because that park doesn't have much going on for it," Janet Ridley said.

Vera Williams, another neighborhood resident, had her hands full keeping her 2-year-old grandson, Deanthony, in check as he eyed the row of inflatables.

"That's a blessing, right there," Williams said. "He's having a ball. He doesn't know which way to go."

The Torps and donations from the community footed the bill for the reception.

"We just wanted to show everybody we love them and we want to be members of the community and show the love of God," Christian Torp said.

Organizations such as Lexington Rescue Mission, Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice and Lexington Public Library had informational tables. Moveable Feast, which delivers meals to people with AIDS and HIV-related illnesses, had a table, too.

"I've already talked to a couple of people who think they have relatives that might be eligible to deliver meals to," said Tony Burgett, chairman of Moveable Feast's board. "That's the bottom line for us, is making sure we're in touch with the people who need us."

Aleidra Allen, director of the University of Kentucky's Center for Community Outreach, estimated that 70 student volunteers took part in the afternoon's activities. (Asbury and Transylvania universities also had volunteers on hand.) Providing assistance to the neighborhood through a wedding reception motivated volunteers to participate, even though it was the day of the Kentucky-Louisville football game.

"When someone is willing to do such a huge thing for the community, how can you sit back and not be a part of it?" Allen said.

Ginny Blackson, executive director of The Nest, a non-profit that provides services for women and children, agreed.

"What a wonderful idea," Blackson said. "I think it is one of the most giving things I've ever known anybody to do. So often weddings are about me, me, me, and for this couple it's about you, you, you."

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