Tomorrow is the annual Birchwood Block Party. Every year around this time, we block off Birchwood Crescent here in Moncton. We partially block off the bottom of the “U” of Birchwood Crescent almost every day – with orange traffic cones to warn drivers that kids are at play. But at the annual Block Party, we really take over the street, populating it with tables, chairs, barbecues, coolers, piñatas, etc. Here’s a picture of some of the kids that attended 3 years ago:
Everyone who lives on the street is invited, as well as anyone else a Birchwood resident wants to have along. The tradition started years ago when the French Consul used to live in the house next door. They had a Bastille Day party every year (of course), and it was a huge affair extending all over their large property and involving hundreds of guests. Of course, this meant a big traffic and parking headache for the whole neighbourhood, so to make it up to us, they would have us along to the party. Instead of hobnobbing with the politicians and local dignitaries, we “streeters” would usually just hang out with each other and enjoy the wine and canapés.
Then, in 2003, our French neighbours moved to Tunisia, to take up the consular post in Sfax. We felt a looming gap in our summer entertainment schedule, so some of the neighbourhood ladies took it on themselves to organize a street party. This will be its 6th consecutive year, and it has grown with each iteration. Now we’re so sophisticated that we have themes: 2 years ago was Hawaiian, last year was Country Hoedown, complete with hayrides; and this year it’s Olympian.
There is a significant amount of work expended by the organizing ladies, and also by almost everyone who attends. Why go through that effort? I think it’s a symptom of the social disease we all have: the desire to be with other people. It’s why the (second) oldest profession is inn-keeping (or bar-keeping) – someone is always providing the venue for folks to gather.