“Icey Lady” Is A Hit
by Allan Appel | Sep 4, 2012 12:40 pm
Posted to: City Point, Kimberly Square
At the second annual bike-themed Labor Day block party on Greenwich Avenue in the Hill, face-painting, raffles and ices were in.
The party for the neighbors on Greenwich Avenue between First and Second Streets near Galvin Park in the Hill drew about 60 kids and their grown-ups for a leisurely end-of-summer afternoon of bike races, kid fun, and casual encounters where people who know each other only by face get to shake hands and learn each others’ names.
Other big changes were evident as well.
A year ago the block was struggling with at least one house of drug-dealing tenants. So neighbors had a first-ever Labor Day block party in order to come together. This year at the second annual bike-themed event, the drugs were out and face painting by Lip Gloss Crisis was in, along with new activities and a growing neighborhood spirit.
Lip Gloss Crisis, also known as Sara Scranton, was in particular demand. Popular faces she created and noticed around the block Monday afternoon included the number-one popular choice, the butterfly, which 10-year-old Aaliyah Rodriguez preferred.
The runner-ups included Hello Kitty, Sponge Bob Square Pants, and Jesus.
Lip Gloss Crisis is one of the new additions to the party, as was the Catch the Flava “icey lady,” as the kids called her, along with posters, toys and bike parts and tools to be won in a gala raffle, abundant food, and glossy printed photos of the kids themselves in action. Every kid was able to take a photo home.
All that was made possible by a neighborhood leadership grant that the Greenwich block party team won to underwrite the event from the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven,
“Memory is important. Kids on the block [now] have a memory of a good time and they can look forward to a good time [next year],” said Leslie Blatteau, one of the lead organizers, who lives on Greenwich Avenue and teaches history at Metropolitan Business Academy.
In addition the new fun stuff, the party retained the bike riding, bike building, and bike repair signature of the inaugural event.
Last year Blatteau’s partner Jim VanCamp had set up a free and open bicycle clinic in front yard of their house two lots up from Galvin Park.
Kids came, and carpenter and mechanic VanCamp involved them in fixing their bikes. A subtle change has taken place over the past year that VanCamp said reflects a friendlier, tighter-knit quality, and sense of security, in the neighborhood.
“Last year, it was ‘Jim, can you fix my bike?’ This year it’s, ‘Can I borrow that wrench?’” said Blatteau.
As a result of the tutelage, many of the kids, like Antonio Jones, with the BMX Mongoose that he built, not only built and fixed their own bikes but helped their friends do the same.
Area master gardener Chris Schaefer said the block party was one of several activities that have resulted in a solution to the long-festering drug dealing problem on the block. He also attributed the quality of life improvement in the area to a coming-together around a green space on Howard Avenue.
He and two helpers, Truman students Khadeijaha and Sherrelle Williams, helped put in hostas and coral bells along Howard between First and Second this summer, the third year of the group’s activity. The girls said they enjoyed the planting and mulching all right, but the party afterwards even more.
Schaefer, one of the Independent’s most illustrious Gardeners of the Week, said a neighbor told him he’s so impressed with the party, he wants to have one on his block of Greenwich, the block between 3rd and 4th.
“I said, ‘Have yours next year and the next year we’ll combine,’” Schaefer said.
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posted by: Christopher Schaefer on September 4, 2012 1:42pm
Thanks for the great coverage by the Independent. Many more photos of our Block Party here: http://tinyurl.com/c6p6he9
Thanks to the Independent for joining us a second year in a row. And props to Allan who ran the New Haven Road Race and then biked to the Hill for our party. The day couldn’t have been better! Pleasant weather, great people, and a positive celebration for the kids on Greenwich Avenue. This is what young people deserve and we are grateful to all the neighbors and friends who made it happen, as well as the Community Foundation for supporting the event.
Just a few clarifications:
1. Jim’s last name is Van Campen.
2. I don’t think a few nameless law-breakers were our motivation last year or this year. We are motivated by the majority of people on our block who are consistently doing the right thing. We are motivated by the kiddos who want to play and ride bikes safely in their hood. We are motivated by a belief that human beings prefer peace and purpose over violence and aimlessness.
3. We didn’t print out pictures for distribution…yet. But we do have it in the budget to print color pictures and get them in the right hands, in the right frames and on the right fridges.
Thanks again to the NHI for celebrating community right along with us.
posted by: Channel 1 on September 4, 2012 8:07pm
Congratulations to Leslie & Sara for helping to organize an event that promotes community. If you ladies every need additional help Channel 1 has your back. Nice JOB!