Fourteen small hands hold 14 hammers poised impatiently over 14 nails resting on 14 blocks of wood.
Bob Ware, who is visiting south-side residents Roger and Judy Summers, calls out, “Can we build it?”
In unison, 14 young boys respond with an enthusiastic shout, “Yes, we can!”
And suddenly the Williams Woodland Park neighborhood resounds with the deafening cacophony of hammers wielded by a flock of fledgling carpenters (and guided by dads and other willing helpers), ranging in age from 2 to 12.
It’s a Bob the Builder party, hosted by the Summerses on the huge wrap-around porch of their 1891 Victorian home on a recent Sunday afternoon.
Ware, an actual builder from Cincinnati who specializes in decorative concrete, is supposed to make a “brief cameo appearance” as a real-life Bob the Builder, the British children's animated TV show character, says Judy Summers, but the lure of construction compels him to lend his expertise to several of the boys.
Judy Summers, a special-education teacher for 31 years, is not fazed by the chaos on her porch.
“Keeping order is not something I worry about,” she says. “I love kids, and I love to watch them have new experiences.”
The Summerses have 13 grandchildren — seven of them girls who always want to have tea parties when visiting Opa and Oma, Summers explains. So, last year the couple hosted a tea party for the neighborhood girls.
“The girls made fairy wands, ate cookies off of real glass plates, and drank tea from real glass cups,” Summers recalls. “They wore their fanciest dresses and hats. The girls loved the party with all the decorations and fresh flowers on the tables.”
Summers credits neighbor Jimmy Rader with the idea for the Bob the Builder party.
“It seemed like it should be the boys’ turn this year since they were disappointed at not being invited last year,” she explains. “The theme was chosen because little boys could relate to Bob the Builder.”
The boys were instructed to wear work clothes. Some brought hammers while others selected a tool from the row of hammers provided. Lowe’s donated bright red aprons and kits for the project at no cost.
Within an hour of the first tap of the first hammer, 14 small wooden chests, decorated with decals are cradled in small arms as parents pose their children on the porch steps for a group photo — with Bob the (real) Builder front and center.
Refreshments follow — root beer floats served in Ball jars and homemade doughnut holes dipped in icing and sprinkles, all served from a big red toolbox.
“Before you leave,” Summers instructs, “I want you all to sign this (thank you card) to Lowe’s.”
The Summerses, who have lived in Williams Woodland Park for eight years, are thrilled to be a part of the close-knit community.
“This neighborhood has lots of kids,” Summers says. “We plan most of our activities to always include the kids ... (and) we have the perfect porch for parties.”
Jimmy Rader and his children, Victoria and Aiden, credit the Summerses with nurturing the sense of community.
“They do a lot for the neighborhood,” Victoria said.
“They keep us connected,” added Jimmy, as he looks around at the boys, busy with their projects. “Probably 90 percent of these boys have never picked up a hammer.”
The porch gradually clears, as boys head home with their treasures. Tables and chairs are folded up, and Ball jars are washed and put away. The porch regains its identity as a place to gather, sip iced tea, and visit with neighbors and friends.
Judy Summers, however, won’t be taking a long Sunday nap to recover from the party. She and Roger have to leave at 5 p.m. for Cincinnati.
You see, the next day was the beginning of “Grandma Camp” — three days of water play, museums, craft projects, ethnic foods, games, hikes, movies and a walk on Cincinnati’s Purple People Bridge.
“It’s a chance for Opa and Oma to spend time with the grandkids, and for the grandkids to spend time with their cousins,” Summers explains. “(We’ll) eat ice cream, play with glow sticks and just have fun.”
You just know they will.