Neighbourhood block parties are an opportunity for people to meet and get to know each other. They are also to have fun and increase the sense of belonging to a community, which in turn encourages neighbours to look after each other.
I asked a few residents to share their experience with a block party. Thanks to Joanne McNeal for sharing this story:
“Our Block Party was held in the back alley intersecting 94 Street between 109A and 110 Avenues, in August of 2014. I had the idea to invite people to come together on a Sunday afternoon for a ‘Sundae Sunday.’ Ice cream was provided and residents on three avenues between 92 and 97 Streets were invited to bring a topping, a bowl, a spoon, and a folding chair. We had shade over the ice cream with the toppings, which included nuts, fruits, berries, chocolate, caramel, and marshmallows, on a separate table. At first, people did not know what to expect, so I had to keep explaining the idea. We had set up small picnic tables along the alleys, and eventually other people brought chalk to make a hopscotch game, and the kids also jumped rope. The adults sat and visited and moved around. People went back for second and even third helpings. We got some cones for the kids, and everyone helped themselves. Many cultures were represented: Italian, Chinese, and Eastern European, besides Canadian-born residents.
One lady didn’t understand the concept and thought we were giving away free ice cream, so she came with a huge salad bowl. I explained that it was an opportunity to visit and get to know neighbours, and that she needed a small bowl so she could eat ice cream while visiting. She went home and got a small bowl, a spoon, and a chair. She sat down and enjoyed visiting for the next two hours. Afterwards, she said she enjoyed visiting with neighbours she had never met before – even though she had lived here for 40 years! How wonderful is that? Everyone had fun visiting. It was a good way to get to know our neighbours – and tasty too!”
You too can host a party, however large or small. Your event can be bolstered by the Block Party Kit that the McCauley Community League has put together for this exact purpose. As well, the City of Edmonton has Small Sparks grants of $250 that can be applied for. If you want some assistance, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will create memories!