Block parties build neighborhood fun in Hinsdale
Upholding a traditional game, Jennifer and Matt Riordan toss a water balloon over the net to Brendan and Amy Sheehan. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Number of block
2011: 32 (of which 26 were after Aug. 1)
2012: 7 as of Aug. 1, plus two more scheduled in August and September
Updated: October 8, 2012 1:54AM
HINSDALE — The Salvinos of Hinsdale decided to start a block party on their street last year.
“For both my husband and I, block parties were part of our childhood,” Peggy Salvino said.
The Salvinos have lived on the 500 block of North County Line Road for five years.
“We have a great block. A lot of the kids are the same age as my kids.”
Peggy and Mike Salvino have four children age 7 and younger.
The process was simple. The village asks residents to submit a block party request form to the village manager’s office, at least a week prior to the requested day. No fee is charged, but the request must be signed by 75 percent of the residents in the area to be blocked off.
“We started slow last year,” Salvino said. “We had sidewalk chalk out, and lawn sprinklers and we had a piñata.”
Parents saw their children did not need more than that to keep themselves amused.
“For the kids it’s a riot to be able to play in the street,” Salvino said.
“My kids said of the things we did last summer that was the funnest,” said Melissa Michie who lives on the same block as the Salvinos. “The freedom to run in the street was wonderful. They talk about that the most.”
To keep it simple, they ordered pizza and invited people to bring a dessert.
“And everyone rolls out their cooler,” Salvino said.
Members of both the Police and Fire departments stopped by the party, too.
Fire Department Lt. Bill Claybrook said block parties provide a chance to remind residents about fire safety.
“We bring the (fire) truck and that’s the eye catcher. Then we engage them in conversation with safety tips,” Claybrook said. The firefighters will review how fires start, how to safely exit a house with a fire, and how families should designate a meeting place outside the home where they can call 911.
The fun part of their visit includes letting children and adults climb inside the cab of the fire engine or fire truck, sit in the seats in the back and put their arms through the straps of the air packs.
The police officer allowed children to examine the squad car and had fun with their parents, too.
“They were great,” Michie said. “They posed with us, with our hands behind our back, so it looked like we were being arrested and we took pictures.”
This year they added a disc jockey, after conferring with the neighbors to find out if there was any objection to amplified music, Salvino said.
“We are way too busy,” Michie said.
Therefore, a block party offers a convenient and relaxing place for people to meet and socialize. All they have to do is walk out their front door, and no one has to clean their house and bear the responsibility of entertaining guests.
To Salvino and her husband, who grew up in the Beverly neighborhood of Chicago, block parties “are a summer staple in a way.”
And although the name is “pretty self-explanatory,” Salvino said, some people did not get the gist of the event.
“At the beginning of this summer, we heard people were asking, ‘are the Salvinos going to have their summer party again?’ It’s not our party, it’s everybody’s party,” Salvino said with a laugh. “It’s the block’s party.”
This will be the last year the Salvinos organize the event, however, because they are moving this month to another house close by in Burr Ridge.
“We will pass the torch.”