Raising Needham: The Joys of a Good Old-Fashioned Block Party
Getting to know your neighbors is as easy as throwing a party.
When we moved into our new home a year ago, I was thrilled. Great town, great schools, great next-door neighbors. Life was good.
I did, however, begin to miss living in a traditional neighborhood. We live on a busy street, and while I do like the constant hustle and bustle of that, I worried we wouldn’t get to know our extended neighbors. I chalked it up to one of the few things I would have to give up to live in our new house. It could be worse.
Life was moving along fairly well and we had a great relationship with our next-door neighbors from day one. Soon, new neighbors moved in behind us and we started enjoying playing with their son, sharing a glass of wine and just hanging out. Then I was introduced to another family on the other side of our block. A play date came next and then the idea of a block party. I thought, at least there would be four families to anchor my attempt to create a neighborhood.
I joined forces with my next-door neighbor, made flyers and reached out to several other families on our block and down our street. The RSVPs came rolling in, and I started getting excited.
As if it was all meant to be, the pending hurricane held off, the skies were clear and the air warm. The kids helped with set-up by carefully placing their outdoor toys around the yard for their new friends to enjoy. Leaves were raked, the lawn was cut, and we even managed to get the driveway safety net up for rolling balls or runaway toddlers. I used the sidewalk chalk to write a message of welcome to our new friends, and my son offered up his birthday balloons for the party.
Neighbors showed up with fun side dishes; kids came with bikes and scooters. The young and the not-so-young played, ate good food and got to know one another. I shook a lot of hands, asked for reminders of names several times and pointed out my house to my new friends, feeling all the while very satisfied with my efforts to create a neighborhood on my busy street.
The day turned to night, the younger kids went home for bed and an outdoor fire kept the older kids and adults happy for hours. I learned that my son has two neighborhood kids that would be attending kindergarten with him next year, that my daughter is great at making little ones feel comfortable with the big kids, and that my neighbor who recently lost her husband is doing OK and still has her great sense of humor.
When midnight rolled around (yes, midnight) and the last log fizzled out, we packed it up and called it a day/night. And as the last guest waved goodbye and I repeated their names so I wouldn't forget, I thought about the next block party with what would then be old friends and maybe even some new.
I always thought the sign of a successful party was thinking about the next with eager anticipation. I can’t wait to throw our next block party!