Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Despite Heavy Rains, Block Party Goes On

Last weekend, our annual block party was scheduled. We had a hand in helping organize a few events and were excited as our niece and nephew were coming over to join the fun.

However, heavy rains Friday night and Saturday morning threatened to put an end to this. We received 8+ inches of rain which contributed to I-290 being shut down for the first time ever due to the new river that formed beside it. In fact, our town was declared a disaster zone and received the highest rainfall in the Chicagoland area.

We and others on our block were fortunate to only receive a little minor water in the basement, unlike some friends who received much worse damage. But despite this rain delay, folks on our block decided to press on with the block party.

After a social breakfast, the main activity of the day was painting rain barrels. While I may have had a part in suggesting the activity, it was well-coordinated by another member of our block, who took some photos of the process. Those of us interested chipped in on paint and supplies ahead of time, and we ended up with 6 rain barrels painted by different families on the block. The kids got into the painting at first, but quickly lost interest when bubbles and water balloons started flying around, so the adults ended up completing the barrels.




For our part, we took one of our existing rain barrels and painted a playful underwater sea scene on it. Jen had some great inspiring artwork for a whimsical octopus, puffer fish, jellyfish, and more that she printed off in advance. We painted directly onto the barrel and protected it with a coat of polyurethane. We're thinking about installing our barrel off the garage beside the vegetable garden, where it can give a lot of life and color year-round.



Another fun activity I was in charge of was the Blender Bike. Our friend Jim works with the good folks at Working Bikes and loaned me an old exercise bike fitted with a DC motor that could power a lightbulb. It could also power an old school blender, so with a bit of ice and some Countrytime lemonade mix, the kids on our block got a first-hand feel for energy. I would have them pedal and get a good speed going on the exercise bike, and then flip the blender switch to on. They would immediately feel the "electrical load" and have to pedal much harder to keep it turning. It worked out great and with the heat and humidity, the kids lined up for an ice cold slushie! Especially the ones who were pedaling to power the blender.

The party really started a bit later, when I offered all the adults to make a slushie with vodka in it. Lots of takers for that!

I also brought out our baggo boards and had borrowed a really neat set from Chris to have a baggo tournament (with a 16-team bracket). This has become a good block party tradition. We had some good teams this year, and I think we'll do some seeding for next year's party.


Finally, I collected electronic waste (e-waste) from people as usual to take for proper recycling. There's a Green Fest in Elmhurst this weekend that will be a perfect drop-off.

We skipped the evening communal dinner in order to spend time with our niece and nephew, but I think the block party was great fun on an otherwise wet day. It's always great to come together and strengthen the community.

"On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers," Aldai E. Stevenson

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