Block Parties Have Become Staple in Shorewood
This year, for the first time, Shorewood has started using the number of block party permits issued to measure how well the members of the community are interacting with one another.
Block parties have become a Shorewood staple that village officials say demonstrates the community's values, and the number of neighborhood gatherings in the village is holding strong with an average of 42 a year.
This year, the village is on pace to hit that three-year average.
And this year, for the first time, Shorewood has started using the number of block party permits issued to measure how well the members of the community are interacting with one another.
Numbers show that since 2008, the residents of Shorewood have been very active in that department.
The numbers are as follows:
- 2008: 48
- 2009: 45
- 2010: 32
- 2011: 45
- 2012 (first six months): 21
According to Village Manager Chris Swartz, block parties are a good indicator of strong community values.
“Our Shorewood Vision Plan calls for strong neighborhoods,” Swartz said. “It’s important that we measure strong indicators of strong neighborhoods to assure our vision is being met.”
The first block parties of Shorewood stemmed from the desire of residents who lived on the same block to get to know one another. A collective few came forward and offered to be the organizers. One of those organizers was 35-year-resident, Don Berg, who hosted his first block party in the '80s and remembers that preparing for the party was a team effort.
“For everything we wanted to do for the block party, we had a chairman,” Berg said. “Everybody found out each other's talents and became friendlier in creating this function.”
Each chairman had his or her own essential duty. One committee was in charge of gathering the signatures from neighbors that approved of the street being blocked off. Another committee planned the individual events, and yet another took care of the logistics, such as securing enough picnic tables.
“Each of us will have a relationship with these functions that is more than just sharing the alley; we share the experience and get to know each others attributes,” Berg said.
Features of past block parties include a variety of dishes made by community members, a children’s area, musical entertainment and even a fire engine so residents could take turns sitting in it. Most importantly, it provides a casual setting to interact with neighbors.
“What’s happening in Shorewood is the way we would like America to be, “ Berg said. “We have a micro-connection with each other and are feeling safe.”
Twenty-year-old Marissa Steinhofer vividly remembers these block parties as she grew up.
“I have been to about five block parties, and I love them,” Steinhofer said, “Everyone really gets an opportunity to feel close to their neighbors.”
Peak time for block parties is during the summer and fall months, especially September.