Neighborhood Connections holds sixth annual block party

Sunday, October 25, 2009
Neighborhood Connection sponsored a block party Saturday at May Green Park in Cape Girardeau. The party featured clowns, pony rides, face paintng, free food, and much more. This is the sixth year Neighborhood Connection, a non-profit community developement association, has held the block party. (LAURA SIMON)

In Cape Girardeau, a clear fall day on Fountain Street was the scene of a lot of commotion Saturday. A crowd of about three hundred had gathered. Music blared. Smoke wafted. People started drawing on the streets.

Then the first responders came: A police car, a firetruck ... and a herd of small ponies.

Such was the spectacle at the sixth annual Block Party by May Greene Park. Organized by Neighborhood Connections, the festivities started at 11 a.m. beneath clear skies.

The firetruck, courtesy of the Cape Girardeau Fire Department, occupied one end of the street.

A bit farther up, in the middle of the street, sat the Cape Girardeau Police Department's DARE car, straddling the center with its doors flung wide and its trunk full of stereo speakers open. Music poured out. Many people danced in the streets, and a uniformed police officer danced with them.

Neighborhood Connection sponsored a block party Saturday at May Green Park in Cape Girardeau. The party featured clowns, pony rides, face paintng, free food, and DJ Barrett Hoover, right. This is the sixth year Neighborhood Connection, a non-profit community developement association, has held the block party. (LAURA SIMON)

"I love my job," said DARE officer A.C. Walker. "I'm also the elementary school resource officer," she added. "My job is to build a bridge between the police and the community. ... It's the best job in the world."

Across the way, in front of Christ Episcopal Church, live music alternated with a DJ and played to small groups of people in tables and chairs, arranged like a street cafe.

Nearby, a young local artist named Alisha Castleman had claimed a small piece of the street. With toddlers gathered around and plenty of others looking on, she worked her pastels on the bland blacktop. In bright colors she drew a dish of ice cream. Her work is regularly displayed at Cup 'N' Cork.

Just up from Castleman, closer to Broadway, Helen Towner painted faces. Five-year old Kiviana Brown sat still as a winged image formed on her face. "It's a butterfly," she said, and smiled.

As for those ponies: There were many children who said they had never ridden a horse before. Two-year old Shay McClinton smiled up to her grandfather, Derrick Glass, who looked on as the handlers led her around the area and took a picture. Glass lives in the neighborhood. "It seems like it brings everybody together," Glass said. "It's a chance to have your family meet the neighborhood."

That, says Neighborhood Connections, is the point of the event.

Many local businesses donated time, food and services. Cup 'N' Cork provided baked beans; Shnucks donated hot dogs, buns and condiments; Burrito-Ville gave away burritos; Broadway Books & Roasting Co. served coffee, lemonade and water; Broussard's dished out a Cajun mix of beans and rice; Fred's Store helped with items such as plates, cups and utensils. Port Cape, Celebrations, Social's and others businesses also helped out.

Joyce Felty and family, of Rolling Hills Farms, brought the ponies and donated a great deal of time and effort.

"It's all about the kids," Felty said.

Robert Gentry, who owns the Corner Store with his wife, Mary, is part of Neighborhood Connections. He brought his bubble machine. He said the event "shows how people of diversity can come together. It makes this a very special year."

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