Neighborhood Block Party #2

This past Saturday was our annual block party, the second one we’ve attended since moving into our house. The street was closed off to car traffic starting at 10:00 AM to leave a wide open space for the party, and we made ourselves at home with folding chairs, a cooler full of refreshments, and even the playpen for Lillian to nap in.

Chilling in front of the house.

I wrote a blog post about last year’s block party, which talked about the experience of meeting lots of our neighbors and generally getting a feel for the neighborhood, but what I’ve realized since then is just how much bigger all of the surrounding block parties are compared to ours. When the neighboring streets are roped off, you’ll see tents and gigantic inflatable bouncy castles and dozens of kids running around everywhere.

Ours, on the other hand, is what the neighbors affectionately call “the geriatric block.” The majority of people are middle aged or retired, and there are so few kids that they don’t even bother to rent one of the bouncy castles anymore. The result is that our block party is a subdued affair where people mostly sit around in front of their houses, enjoying good food and catching up with their neighbors while the handful of kids ride their bicycles, tricycles, and battery-powered toy cars around in the empty street.

This is about as busy as it gets on our block.

Just like last year, a DJ came by to play music in the evening, and early in the afternoon a firetruck came by just for show — you can even see it at the end of the block in the above photo. The firetruck probably happened last year too, though we somehow missed it, and this year we only watched it from a distance since Lillian was napping the whole time it was there.

Sleeping through all the excitement.

A lot of the neighbors hadn’t met Lillian before, though many knew she was on the way since I was visibly pregnant at last year’s block party, and so she got to meet lots of new people over the course of the day. She greeted everyone with smiles and sunshine like she always does. And she seemed to really enjoy watching the older kids ride their bikes back and forth:

Watching the older kids.

And we got to meet some neighbors that we hadn’t met before, too. Like the new family that moved in across the street only a month ago, with a 3-year-old daughter and another baby girl due this fall. And an older couple down the street whose three grown children (with various grandchildren) all chose to buy houses within walking distance on the neigboring blocks. They jokingly call the neighborhood their commune.

It’s interesting how neighborhoods cycle through the generations, and between us and the couple of other young families who’ve moved in on our block, it looks like it’s already starting to happen — so it’ll be fun to see how the atmosphere of the block party changes from one year to the next. (And in the meantime, maybe we’ll sneak off to one of the block parties on the next street over so Lillian can enjoy the bouncy castles as she grows!)


  1. I just think the block party idea is really cool. It would be fun if we could do something like that down here. Is it kind of like a back to school thing? If more young couples like you and Joe move in, maybe you won’t have to go the next street for the bouncy house. ;) You never know! I think it’s great that Lillian seems to like people so much and is always ready with a smile. What a wonderful quality! Love you all!

    • It’s not necessarily a back-to-school type thing, other blocks have been having them at all random times during the summer (and our block’s was held in July last year). I think Chicago is just big on encouraging these kind of block parties, since it helps people get to know their neighbors and builds bonds in the community and whatnot, and the city government makes it easy to close down the street for a day as long as you sign up for it in advance. And it’s true that there might be enough kids to get a bouncy house by the time Lillian’s old enough to enjoy one — it’ll definitely be interesting to see what happens! :)

  2. The world is full of exciting things, some too exciting! I think it’s great that your block party is kind of subdued. I think it gives children a sense of security to grow up in a neighborhood like that. It reminds me of old-time summers with folks visiting, sitting out on their front porches, and kids winding down!

    That security is what gives Lillian her sunny personality!

    • Hehe, that’s a good point about the over-abundance of excitement in the world! I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but it’s definitely true and balance is important when it comes to this sort of thing. And even though Chicago bungalows tend to leave a bit to be desired in the front porch department, I’m grateful every day that we’re able to give Lillian the security of growing up in a quiet and peaceful neighborhood like this one. :)

  3. That baby is WAVING!! Great outgoing personality she has. I too like that your block is more subdued, it let’s her focus more on the people and the natural surroundings. And one thing *I* remember as a kid about neighborhood gatherings (we didn’t block off the road, and it was usually just 2-4 families, but still fun) was the home-made icecream, and watermelons! I am sure there was actual food too, but it was so neat to see ice cream appear “like magic” from salt, ice and goop! And we caught fireflies!

    • Lillian does seem to be figuring out the whole waving thing! And those neighborhood gatherings you mention sound so great — ice cream, watermelons, and fireflies are some of my favorite childhood memories from the summer. :)

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