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Hart Beat

Get ready, it's nearly summer block party time

I've been taking inventory of the paper supplies I have on hand for my neighborhood's annual block party. I seem to have plenty of plastic spoons and cups, and a fair assortment of paper plates. Nevertheless, I think I'll put in an extra supply.

Why am I telling you this? Well, those are the items that seem to end up at the tail end of my shopping list when organizing a party. Knowing that those items are in good supply helps me to begin planning the more important aspect of what has come to be the traditional August Franklin Court National Night Out Party - namely the food.

Since moving into my little neighborhood about 10 years ago, I'm been by default the organizer of our annual August party, which centers around the National Night Out anti-crime activities being held throughout the community.

A few weeks ago I was asking a few of the neighbors if they thought we should have such an event again this year, and the response was favorable. All that needs to happen now is to ask each household what they want to do on the event, which this year will be Aug. 2, and who will supply what.

My daughter, Sarah, and I usually supply the lawn for the party, but we cheat a little by asking if the kids can play on the church lawn next door. I like watching the adults relax in my front yard.

I wouldn't mind if someone else would like to hold the party in their yard, but I'm OK with it. Planning the National Night Out block party gives me the incentive to give my poor yard a much needed mid-summer sprucing. Besides, I always like planning parties. I like decorating for them. I like figuring out what foods will be served, which dishes, in this case, disposable ones, will be used. I particularly love sitting back and watching people visit and enjoy themselves.

I look forward to our National Night Out block parties. I love getting reacquainted with each of my neighbors. At our block party, we share stories about our activities and talk about who's doing what. I love that, as most days I only get to wave at my neighbors as we pass each other on our way to work.

We live in a nice, little neighborhood, one which I hope we can keep safe enough for children to play back and forth between houses, knowing that there are caring adults on the block to watch out for them.

I like living on a block where everyone knows my cats and I know theirs. We all make sure they have plenty of food and a home. In fact, I think even the cats know that, because they roam back and forth pretty freely.

I like knowing whose car is parked in front of the neighbors' homes. I like knowing when their birthdays, graduations and other celebrations are happening. Even if I don't go to their family gatherings, I like the cozy feeling I have knowing I'd be welcome.

I rest easy at night knowing that if someone in my block needs help, we'd be there for each other.

And that takes a bit of dedication and a little work, which is where the block party concept comes into play.

I suppose we could meet more often. But once a year, in the middle of summer is a great time to gather under the shade tree and compare notes.

The beauty of a block party is that any neighborhood can plan such an event. A few folding tables, a watermelon or five gallons of ice cream, lawn chairs, plus invitations to every family on the block, and there ya go - instant block party.

You don't have to start huge. Just invite everyone on the block. Ask them to bring a card table, a game, ice or soda, or whatever food they want. Then pool it, cook or chill it, serve it, play it, sit back and enjoy it.

I enjoy our block party and I know you'll enjoy yours. It's a perfect time to get to know your neighbors and to make new friends.

For more ideas about planning a National Night Out block party call the Sunnyside Police Department at 836-6200.

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