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Longest Table: Why this massive dinner party on Dayton bridge will be even bigger this year

What’s better than a dinner across a bridge with 300 of your new best friends? 

How about a dinner party for 600 of your new best friends across that very same bridge?

>> PHOTOS: The Longest Table’s 2016 dinner party across a Dayton bridge

Organizers of the Longest Table Dayton are planning the second annual Main Meal on the Third Street Bridge, also known as the Peace Bridge.

Bryan Stewart, Longest Table Dayton’s founder, said the vision for the project is much clearer than it was last year. 

>> MORE: Here is why Bryan Stewart was a Daytonian of the Week

“We have actually done it, and it was awesome,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we see double the turnout than last year.”  

HOW TO HELP

Table hosts (conversation facilitators) and other volunteers are being sought for the event set for 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14. 

Click here to sign up to volunteer. 

HOW TO GO 

Participant RSVPs are requested for the free meal to be prepared with the help of House of Bread. Click here to register. 

The Longest Table, a winning project from this year's UpDayton Summit led by Stewart, a city of Dayton legislative aide, aims to bring local people together.

“It’s going to be hard for someone from East Dayton to empathize with someone from West Dayton if they don’t know anybody from West Dayton,” he noted, adding that the opposite is also true. “(It is about) opening people’s lenses up to more experiences.” 

Longest Table Dayon was patterned after a similar project in Tallahassee, Fla., that holds annual dinners. 

>> MORE: These 3 winning UpDayton ideas want to change Dayton for the better 

The Longest Table Dayton, a winner from 2016 UpDayton Summit, has held more than a dozen free dinners since December.

More than 500 Dayton residents gathered on the Third Street Bridge for conversation and a meal during The Longest Table event, which was held Saturday, Oct. 15. The concept was one of the winning projects at the UpDayton Summit.

It will partner with Dayton Inspires, also an offshoot of UpDayton, for a community cleanup in Dayton’s Madden Hills neighborhood before the Third Street Bridge meal. 

The details of that event are still being determined. 

The Third Street Bridge meal is being funded partly by a $5,000 mini grant from the city of Dayton. Local restaurants and food vendors will also provide food. 

Participants are asked to bring dessert if possible. Dayton police will hand out ice cream. 

There will also be information about downtown projects like the Gem City Market,  Dayton Arcade and Levitt Pavilion.  

>> MORE: Dayton’s Levitt Pavilion announces first concert

>> MORE: Parties and handshakes to help get Gem City Market off the ground

Stewart said 2016’s political climate made it hard for many people to communication with others. 

“A year later, we are a community that is even more divided,” he said. “This conversation is needed now more than ever.” 

>> MORE: Robert Redford, Casey Affleck movie was filmed in downtown Dayton

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