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September 21, 2012 - 

Shrieks of joy and giggles of delight rang out around Alameda (California) Christian Reformed Church late this summer as families from the church and the community came together for a fun-filled day of activities.

Kids and adults alike enjoy the festivities at Alameda CRC’s block party.

The annual block party began as a reinvention of the church picnic. “Years ago we started with a church picnic. Slowly interest in attendance was waning, so we decided to go a different route and have a block party—make it a community event with entertainment for the kids and adults with free food provided by our members,” said Dan Kreiss, a member of the church.

With a permit from the city, the church blocked off the street and turned it into a picnic area, grilling burgers and hot dogs. Members of the Korean church that shares the building provided Korean barbecue. But the food wasn’t the only draw for the neighborhood.

Games, face painting, a bouncy house, manicures, fire engines, and police K-9 units kept kids busy. “Entertainment varies from year to year; we have had magicians, a dance troupe from one of the youth groups in our church, and this year we are adding karaoke for the children,” said Joan DeWindt.

Local merchants donated gifts for the drawings for the adults. This year some very generous gifts were included in a silent auction to benefit a local food bank. “Participation in the block party is our totally free gift to our neighbors; the silent auction will allow us to extend the giving to the larger community as well,” said DeWindt.

The block party gave space to a voter registration table, an opportunity to promote community organizations, and a Neighborhood Watch program. A local Cub Scout troop helped with set-up and take-down and received any money on recycling from the event.

DeWindt said, “Attendance varies from year to year, but it has proven to be a good opportunity to get to know our neighbors better. Some of those neighbors have returned to get involved in our church and are now pitching in to help with the block party.”

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