Community

Block parties foster community

Get-togethers a good way to meet your neighborGet-togethers a good way to meet your neighbor

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After being seriously injured in an automobile accident, Arvada resident Wayne Nelson received help from neighbors as he convalesced at home.

“I had neighbors on both sides of me helping out,” he said. “And I met them at a block party.”

Neighborhood block parties are a summer staple, reminiscent of a simpler time, but also a good way for people today to get to know those who live around them.

“A block party can be as simple as an ice cream social to a full barbecue or potluck,” said Lakewood police Officer Chad Martinez, who has worked with neighborhoods for years to arrange block parties as part of National Night Out. “It’s as simple as good food and involvement with your neighbors.”

The size and scope of a block party is completely up to the organizers — they can range from just a few neighbors meeting in a driveway to entire neighborhoods closing down streets for food, games and music.

“We have block parties two or three times a year for the past three years or so, and it’s gotten bigger each year,” Nelson said. “We just need music, beer and lots of kids’ activities. I think the kids love it more than anything.”

And because improving communication and partnership among neighbors is also good for cities, many are eager to promote block parties.

“We have information and resouces available for our residents who are interested in throwing a party,” said Takami Peemoeller, neighborhood outreach coordinator with the city of Thornton. “Thornton is a growing city, so block parties are a great way for people to get to know their new neighbors.”

As part of his Arvada leadership class in 2014, Greg Carr, the city’s neighborhood services manager, created a block party trailer to help streamline the process for organizers.

“We found the hardest thing about planning a party is often organizing who can bring what, and we wanted to help with that,” Carr said. “We’ve been promoting it around the city and it has really taken off.”

Inside the trailer are eight 6-foot-long folding tables, four folding picnic tables, 32 folding chairs, four ice chests, three water coolers and a variety of games, including street chalk and karaoke.

Police also use block parties as a way to meet the people they protect in a relaxed atmosphere. National Night Out is an annual event on the first Tuesday of August that encourages networking with neighborhoods and police officers. Neighborhoods organize block parties and police officers come by to meet residents, answer questions and have a good time.

Lakewood boasts about 40 activities yearly, and officers visit as many as they can each year.

“These block parties are a way for us to promote increased involvement of youth with their neighbors and our officers in a positive way,” Martinez said. “We encourage people to reach out to the local business community, because sometimes businesses want to sponsor events and help pay for things.”

And for participants, knowing their neighbors makes a positive difference.

“In the neighborhood I lived in before moving here, no one knew each other at all — they’d get home and just shut their garages,” Nelson said. “Here, people know each other, and they stay in their homes because of that. Just getting together and having a good time makes a big difference.”After being seriously injured in an automobile accident, Arvada resident Wayne Nelson received help from neighbors as he convalesced at home.

“I had neighbors on both sides of me helping out,” he said. “And I met them at a block party.”

Neighborhood block parties are a summer staple, reminiscent of a simpler time, but also a good way for people today to get to know those who live around them.

“A block party can be as simple as an ice cream social to a full barbecue or potluck,” said Lakewood police Officer Chad Martinez, who has worked with neighborhoods for years to arrange block parties as part of National Night Out. “It’s as simple as good food and involvement with your neighbors.”

The size and scope of a block party is completely up to the organizers — they can range from just a few neighbors meeting in a driveway to entire neighborhoods closing down streets for food, games and music.

“We have block parties two or three times a year for the past three years or so, and it’s gotten bigger each year,” Nelson said. “We just need music, beer and lots of kids’ activities. I think the kids love it more than anything.”

And because improving communication and partnership among neighbors is also good for cities, many are eager to promote block parties.

“We have information and resources available for our residents who are interested in throwing a party,” said Takami Peemoeller, neighborhood outreach coordinator with the city of Thornton. “Thornton is a growing city, so block parties are a great way for people to get to know their new neighbors.”

As part of his Arvada leadership class in 2014, Greg Carr, the city’s neighborhood services manager, created a block party trailer to help streamline the process for organizers.

“We found the hardest thing about planning a party is often organizing who can bring what, and we wanted to help with that,” Carr said. “We’ve been promoting it around the city and it has really taken off.”

Inside the trailer are eight 6-foot-long folding tables, four folding picnic tables, 32 folding chairs, four ice chests, three water coolers and a variety of games, including street chalk and karaoke.

Police also use block parties as a way to meet the people they protect in a relaxed atmosphere. National Night Out is an annual event on the first Tuesday of August that encourages networking with neighborhoods and police officers. Neighborhoods organize block parties and police officers come by to meet residents, answer questions and have a good time.

Lakewood boasts about 40 activities yearly, and officers visit as many as they can each year.

“These block parties are a way for us to promote increased involvement of youth with their neighbors and our officers in a positive way,” Martinez said. “We encourage people to reach out to the local business community, because sometimes businesses want to sponsor events and help pay for things.”

And for participants, knowing their neighbors makes a positive difference.

“In the neighborhood I lived in before moving here, no one knew each other at all — they’d get home and just shut their garages,” Nelson said. “Here, people know each other, and they stay in their homes because of that. Just getting together and having a good time makes a big difference.”

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