The 600 block of South First Street had a block party last Sunday (6/22/2008). Wendy, my across the street neighbor, organized it by gaining the signatures needed to get the permit from the city to close the street. We live on the block of First Street where it goes from 1 way to 2 way. Much of the traffic that zooms down First turns onto Madison before our block, but we are close to downtown, and we do get a fair number of cars on our block. So, when they put up the barricades to close the street, the quiet was noticeable. And then came the kids. From the corner house, from across the street, from neighboring blocks.
They came with wheeled vehicles of all sorts – bicycles with training wheels, tricycles, bicycles, scooters, and a funky skateboard with an axle in the center. But there were no cars. We pulled some tables into the middle of the closed street, and as the kids did their bicycle/tricycle/scooter laps in the street, we set up a table of snacks and drinks. The cookies and the cupcakes went first, individually taken by kids looking thrilled to be getting dessert before dinner. Each one that grabbed a cupcake seemed to be waiting for one of the adults to insist they put it down and eat their veggies.
Then the squirt guns came out, and the hoses, and the kids formed some loose teams and had a water fight. The adults only interfered when the shenanigans got too close to the adults and the food table, but otherwise the water war raged at the north end of the block. Adults of grandparental age marveled at the way the girls and boys played together – said it wasn’t like the old days. Later, after our neighbor Georgia created a geyser with Mentos and Diet Coke the gangs of kids broke into gender groups – the girls skipped rope and the boys continued to beat on the plastic 2-liter container.
We met one neighbor for the first time, and we’ve been here for almost 8 years now. And, we got to know other neighbors better, not only those on our block, but also neighbors who live on nearby blocks. What fun.
In the week since the party, I’ve been looking for people on the block, looking to say hello and continue the conversation. Looks like 8 hours of no cars and some food on the street has started to coalesce some neighbors into a neighborhood. Thanks Wendy!