Saturday, May 6th started with a torrent of rain, but by 10:00 am the sun was shining, allowing for residents of Glen Park to gather for a spring block party. About 100 people from across the neighborhood circulated through for snacks, chalk, bubbles and conversation to welcome warmer and drier weather.
Some had planned the visit: Argenta Lopez Cornejo, of Paradise Avenue, said, “My daughters actually saw the flyers when we were walking down Chenery one day and got really excited. They took a picture and made sure that we planned to come.” Others just stopped by on their walk between the village and the park to enjoy the activity.
As far as block parties go, this one was simple. Dozens of children hauled out their bikes, roller skates and scooters to take over the street; there were a few wipe outs, but no major accidents. Nearby families donated their pop-up soccer goals and basketball hoops for pick-up games. A speaker set the mood with a mix of Motown, pop, and country music. A baby-friendly area was set up for the little ones, but it was quickly co-opted by bigger children.
Later in the afternoon, neighbors set up a grill for fully-dressed burgers and hot dogs, sponsored by local contractor Perez Construction.
The block party comes six months after a larger block party on Chenery involving a bounce house, a band, a fire truck visit, and a pet costume parade. “We organized this one a bit last minute just to celebrate the end of rain, give neighbors a chance to get together, and foster community,” said Leslie Harlson, a resident of Chenery Street.
Block parties speak to the “culture of connection” the U.S. Surgeon General recently referenced as a way to combat the epidemic of loneliness. This writer overheard two sets of parents planning play dates between new friends, as well as a few people yell out “I haven’t seen you in ages!”
Anabel Paksoy of Everson Street came with her husband and two-year-old son. “We live up the hill, but are constantly shopping in the village, playing in the canyon, or visiting friends down here, so this was a treat for us to get to do all three of those things on the same day.”
Organizing a block party is not as daunting as you may think. The scale of the event can vary, depending on your resources, time, and availability.
For example, Chenery Street’s October block party was organized through Neighborfest, an initiative that encourages and supports San Franciscans to host block parties each fall. Neighborfest reduces costs and provides free planning resources for organizers. This support allowed the October block party to be bigger and more complex, but it’s still possible to host outside of the Neighborfest season and program.
The May 6th event was through the SFMTA Block Party program. Because of the costs associated, the organizers kept this most recent block party simple. “Today was a simpler version of October’s party, but I enjoyed getting to meet neighbors from Burnside to Laidley. My family is looking forward to another big block party this fall!” said Allison Serkes.
For non-Neighborfest block parties, it is recommended to submit your application early to reduce the permit cost and give your group more time to plan. More information about 2023 Neighborfest should be released by July of this year.
Another option if that seems too much is to simply hold an open house on your block. Recently the members of the 700 block of Chenery (known amongst themselves as The 700 Club) held a potluck for a few hours on a Sunday so everyone on the block could get together, meet new neighbors, catch up and build community.
Every little bit helps to create and strengthen our community.