Happy Hour has long been a favorite gimmick of bars and restaurants for drawing in customers with the promise of discounted drinks and a crowd of people. For the summer of 2003 I was looking for a new way to create fellowship opportunities with my youth group when a different kind of Happy Hour caught my eye. It seemed our local Sonic Drive-In would be offering half priced drinks from 2-4 PM each day, including milk shakes, lime-aids and sodas. A plan began to develop...
I went to the manager at Sonic and told him my idea. One afternoon each week during the summer I would come and "hang out" at one of the covered picnic tables outside the drive-in from 2-4 PM. During this time, my thought was that any number of my youth might stop by for a few minutes to have a cold drink and chat a while. He thought it was a great idea and agreed to provide me with half off food coupons as well. I decided to do it on Wednesdays as a lead in to our big Wednesday Night Live! program. I included it in our Summer Brochure and awaited the results.
Happy Hour was a big hit, but in a very different way from what I had imagined. Students tended to show up at 2 PM and stay the entire 2 hours! There were always folks who dropped by to visit and then left, but every week we were there a core group hung out the entire time. We played cards, listened to music and talked about their lives. It tended to be an odd mix of youth each week, so they were building relationships with each other as well as with me. We ate lots of food, drank lots of drinks and slammed down the occasional banana split. For a couple of summers in Tampa and one in Waycross, these gatherings were a highlight of our summer schedule.
You may not have a Sonic Drive-In in your community, but I bet you have someplace (even someone's home) where you could do a Happy Hour a few times this summer. It's cheap, it requires very little planning, and it gives you a great opportunity to encounter students on neutral turf. And they will bring friends- trust me. A little cherry lime-aid outreach never hurt anyone! If you have any questions about planning summer events, feel free to e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org .
Join me Monday and I'll tell you about one of my favorite year-round fellowship events that can take on a whole new life in the summertime- SHO-Time! See you then!