Celebrating the Dog Days of Summer – Western Style?
If it sounds like a strange way to celebrate, it is! But that was the theme of our annual Arthur Avenue block party held on August 1st. If you have never had a block party on your street, you may want to consider organizing one. We met some brand new neighbors and even convinced some long-time residents to come out and mingle. You can keep it simple, or have lots of fun activities like we do. All you need to do is contact the city and request a permit. They will drop off barricades for your block and they even provide some recycling signs and bags.
We enjoyed pizza, as usual (generously discounted this year by Hungry Howies), and some hot dogs to go along with our dog theme. Guests always bring a side dish or dessert to share and the food was so good that there was talk of a street cookbook. One neighbor even donated freezer pops! Activities this year included a craft table, a frozen t-shirt game, a water balloon toss, a dog and bike parade, a corn hole competition, and a costume contest. A cute cowgirl and an adorable cat won this year. The kids really love just being able to ride their bikes in the middle of the street for a change. Door prizes galore were handed out, too, with donations from businesses like Dairy Queen, Carabel Beauty Salon, and the Blackbird Baking Company. The Fire Department paid us a visit, too. A fire truck and rescue squad pulled onto the street and the kids got to sit in the driver’s seat of the big truck!
Music was provided by a new local band, Beecher Skeggs, with one of the members living on our street! They sounded great, the music was kid-friendly, and they even had some neighbors dancing. I know I was singing along and doing a little dancing with my son. Neighbors from a different street heard the music and left their block party to come to ours! Contact John Levis at 529-9345 if you want to book them for your party.
Sometimes the party is a lot of work to plan (and to clean up!), but I remember a motivating story my husband told me when he traveled to New York City on a business trip years ago. He had mentioned borrowing a neighbor’s car for some reason and his client stared at him like he had 3 heads. This man was amazed that we knew our neighbors and that one actually allowed us to borrow her car! He had lived in an apartment building for years and didn’t know anyone in his building! That story made me sad and I knew that I didn’t ever want to live in a place where we didn’t know our neighbors. Living in Lakewood lends itself to great events like block parties, playgroups, street sales and clambakes. We have a beautiful, old fashioned neighborhood and pretty much everyone knows each other – we look out for each others’ children and help shovel snow or move a really heavy piece of furniture. People literally come running if they hear you are hurt or need help. It is easy to get to know and love your neighbors (and even borrow a car) when you have a great tradition like our annual block party.