The Block Party!


Previously Published in The Wave.

I believe I was 8 years old. We were at my Aunt Katherine’s annual block party on Herbert St. in Greenpoint. I was running for dear life down the middle of the block screaming because my cousin Tommy was chasing me. He had a bucket of ice in tow. Tommy was 5 years older than me, so naturally, he caught up quick, even with the ice bucket. He grabbed me tight around the waist and threw the ice down the back of my shirt. Ice Ice Baby!  Too cold! (Too cold. Seriously.)

I remember those block parties foundly. It was a sign of summer – the smell of the BBQ, the ferris wheel my Grandfather rented, and the firecrackers my father got from “his guy” in Pennsylvania. All of the cousins would run wild and the summer day seemed endless.

If you know me, you know I love to host parties. It only seemed appropriate that I get the ball rolling for a block party of our own. And this 4th of July weekend, it happened! There was a lot of planning involved. I worked with Community Affairs Officer, Maurice Moore (100 Precinct) to get all the appropriate paperwork. I ended up receiving word of approval only a week before the event. That was a little unsettling but it all came together with the help of Officer Moore.

I reached out to the neighbors and everyone seem very excited. People asked what they could do to help. It was a team effort. We had a bounce house lined up, a photobooth, music, twister, water balloons, sparklers, face paint and kids crafts!

Two days before, I checked the weather – threatening rain all day, eek!  After reading the forecast and having a minor panic, I channeled my inner Liza Minnelli and regained composure.  It’s the organizer’s responsibility to set the tone of a party and my feeling was… the show must go on!!  I had five pounds of chop meat, 150 pieces of chicken marinating in the fridge, and all kinds of tasty sides. Oh, and six cases of beer, a case of magnum wine, and rum and vodka for the frozens! The party was happening rain or shine!

The morning of, my friends (also neighbors) Good Keith and Big D blocked off the street with huge party signs my husband made. He even glued pineapples to the plywood! The rest of the setup began shortly after. The big debate was whether or not to put  the music gear on the street. We decided to go for it. At that point it only said 30% chance of rain.

Things kicked off around 1:30pm. The grill was hot and my neighbor Megumi started DJing old-school rocksteady and reggae. The kids were on their bikes and the beers were cold as ice. The first band RobMattCharlz started an hour later and there was dancing in the streets (literally!).

Shortly after the set finished, the dark clouds rolled in and it started pouring! A bunch of us covered the music gear with tarps. Others grabbed the food and ran it up to the porch. Good Keith did not abandon the grill. He finished that round of burgers with the help of Sam Friedman(of the holding an umbrella over him!

When the rain cleared we decided to move the music on my porch, just in case of another downpour. The merriment continued with the rest of the bands – Jackson Kenny restarted the party with some Paul Simon deep cuts and some Sam Cooke tunes. Then my friend Charles killed it with a reggae set. We had Indaculture and The Forms play after that! What a time! We celebrated summer for 9 hours and it was a hell of a party. I think the rain actually made it more fun!  I didn’t have a ferris wheel (this year) but I plan to make the block party bigger and more “Liza Minnelli” every year!

Photo creds: Katie Honan

Amazing photo by Katie Honan.

Party on! Charles and Matt chillin The food must go on! Rob Byrn Don't Park!

tagged in b91, memories, party, rockaway