Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Elusive Block Party

Prior to the July 4th holiday, some friends of mine were talking about the various plans and events that were going on in their neighborhood. Along with the large outdoor festivals and fireworks that the city puts on, their neighborhood associations had set up things like bike decorating for the kids or cookouts for the whole family.

As for us? Nothing.

Don't get me wrong, I love where we live. One of the factors that I have always liked about this house is the "neighborhoody" feel to it and all of the people that we have ever met around here are very nice.

But... is it weird that I wish there was something more?

Maybe I'm asking too much, but for a few years now the thought has swirled around in my head that we need to have a block party. Our street is perfect for it, as the way that the road curves means that the only people that drive down our block are people that live here:

See how pretty my house is?

I'm not asking for anything extravagant or over-the-top, but just a Saturday where everyone would come outside and the kids could play and the weber genesis grills could be fired up and we can all get to know each other and have a good time.

As I said, we've met neighbors, but I don't feel like I really know all that many of them. So whether that means that the women stand around chatting about schools and summer vacations and the men discuss the features of the weber genesis e320 versus the weber e310 (do men talk about those things?), as long as we were all outdoors together, that's what would matter.

So the question remains... how do I make it happen? The path to even getting started seems long and a whole lot of work. Beginning with contacting people (flyers in mailboxes?) and moving on picking a date, assigning jobs, obtaining a permit, and overall the tremendous planning... I'm getting tired just thinking about all of the time and work that would be involved.

If it all came together, I think it would definitely be worth it. But if it was attempted and failed? What a disappointment (not to mention waste of time). Therein lies the dilemma and thoughts that I have pondered for years... and have kept me from considering turning the elusive block party into anything more than a dream.

What do you think? Do you have a neighborhood association or some sort of group that plans things for everyone to do? How in the world do those things get started?


Jenny said...

We are very different on this topic. I am so not the block party type. I don't want to know my neighbors at all really. LOL! I love our neighborhood, but don't want to hang out with the neighbors.

Ok, if you want to plan a block party, do NOT put flyers in mailboxes. Apparently it's a federal offense or something to touch someone's mailbox! Seriously, my sister sells Avon and they were told never to put things on or in mailboxes.

Yes, men really do talk about their grills. At least the men I know do. LOL!

Nichol said...

I'm with Jenny, no block parties for me. I do not know any neighbors really and do not wish to lol. We are such quiet people and rather be alone or with family and friends. Can you say boring?? And ye no flyers in mailboxes stick them in the doors or screen door handles!

Anonymous said...

I feel kinda bad cause I'm about to write something negative about block parties. Reading the first two comments I hate to join in the negative vibes. I'd truly like to live in a world where block parties are happy events that everyone wants to attend, and I really believe there can be happy block parties. But, not on my block. Thing is, the people living on a block are there by random happenstance, and the odds you're going to be friends is something less than 100%. Still, I think you should give it a shot and hope for the best. The grumpy people won't come. All the better.
Anywho, here's my experience. Eighteen years ago (I remember my son was two at the time - do you measure time that way?) we had a block party organized by a neighbor. They wanted $20 per family (three of us). At the time we had very little money and that was quite a steep price in our minds for what they planned: frozen hamburgers from the supermarket, hot dogs, generic chips and sodas...and all the beer you could drink. Our son wouldn't be eating much and I don't drink beer, my husband drank a little. We didn't think we'd consume $20 worth of food and drink. We suggested a potluck buffet at a lower cost. No one was interested in food. I think the party promoters just wanted an excuse to buy a keg. They all invited friends and family. It was agreed ahead of time guests didn't have to pay anything but could drink all they wanted. Each family set up tables and chairs in their own yards, and it ended up as a bunch of private parties in each yard. Most people felt uncomfortable venturing over to other yards. It was pretty weird. Lots of LOUD music (not to my taste). I don't remember any activities other than eating and drinking. My son road his rocking horse down the front steps because we were distracted and not watching. Oh the fun. The next year (and several years after) we were conveniently away for the day and missed the party. I offer this as how NOT to have a block party.
How about starting small by inviting your immediate neighbors to your yard for a simple party. Work on making friends with them. If it goes well, expand it next year. I think face to face invites might be the best way to gain everyone's trust and win them over. And make sure the food is good! Make it potluck, but you provide something extra special.
Even though we all seem negative about parties, I still think it's a good idea. Go for it!

kailani said...

We're not that close with our neighbors but I wish we were. My friend has block parties in their neighborhood all the time! They rent bounces and lots of food and music.

Maybe you could start with contacting a few of your neighbors that you're closest with and go from there? I think that once everyone attend the first event they'll all want to help the next time!

Anonymous said...

It all really comes down to inviting families that enjoy each others company who agree on the food, music and activities. Accept the fact that not everyone is going to want to come, and try not to be too annoying to them (ie, loud music late into the night, or blocking off the street so they can't come and go at will.) Maybe doing it as a fundraiser could be the excuse you need to have a party and get to know your neighbors better. Then you could have a little bake sale table or something, and the people who decline might just walk over to buy some baked goods and say hello. I'm with the woman above; I'm really shy and feel awkward with other people (yeah, boring). But I might feel ok about just buying a brownie for the cause.