Lauterborn Blog Search

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Block Pulls Out the Stops: Annual Smith Street Party A Hit

Block Pulls Out the Stops:
Annual Smith Street Party A Hit
(Appeared on front page of 9/24 Fairfield Citizen newspaper)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – The official start time was 4pm and eager residents of Smith Street had begun to gather for their annual block party. It was the 14th consecutive affair on this block and the highlight of the street’s fall period.

Eileen Weber, actually an Oldfield Road resident, was this year’s organizer, coordinating the September 18th scheduling, printing flyers, securing a permit and arranging for barricades.

Her daughter, Norah, was already into the Cheetoh’s, a bag of which was set on one of several draped folding tables in front of “Ground Zero”, number 48 Smith Street. “Your fingers are going to be all orange,” someone said to her. “I’ll just lick ‘em off!” she replied with a grin.

Overhead, on a cord tied between a telephone pole and basketball hoop, squares of cloth, on which peace signs had been painted, hung.

From his corner Victorian-style home, Mark Potter carried over a huge container of fruit punch. It drew children like moths to a flame. They gathered around the spigot, cups at the ready, as Potter set it down.

As the numbers of the junior set grew, Hula Hoops, basketballs, juice packs and chalk – the staples of youth – appeared. Among them, Peter Nikac’s mini golden doodle Charlie and Nancy Murphy’s Welsh terrier Gibby played.

In an adjacent pear tree, multi-colored round paper lanterns were hung above a metal ice tub piled high with seasonal beers, soda, sparkling water, wine and juice. Bubbles drifted past, launched by Suzanna Weber, 7, and Audrey Anderson, 3. Audrey’s elder sister, Grace, 5, stood nearby tooting a whistle. Whizzing past on a scooter went Spencer Dolzani, 5.

Trundling up the street, Audrey’s mom, Sara, carried a plate of toast squares topped with dip. She secured a cup of wine, glad to be “off duty” for a few moments.

Tearing down the block on his gleaming bike, Phillip Lauterborn, 10, dodged pedestrians. This included Sandy Murphy, John Weber and Brian Dolzani who were huddled sipping beer. Murphy had a Redhook Ale and remarked, “A fraternity brother is the brewmaster.” Said Weber, “A perfect time to reestablish the connection!”

The older children in the group hovered at one end of the gathering, lazing in the grass, tapping on iPhones and tuning in iPods. Others like Griffin Murphy, 13, and Casden Leahey, 14, tossed a football back and forth. At the opposite end of the street, John Reidy, 6, ran about with a hockey stick whacking a Wiffle ball into a net while his elder sister, Elizabeth, 11, tossed a ball back and forth with Charlie Miller, 12.

More adults arrived, coupled and caught up with current events. Attendance was not limited to local residents. Shawn and Jacqui Levin and son Braden rolled in from the Stratfield area. “This is our first time here. Braden’s having a blast! We don’t have this kind of interaction where we are. This is amazing, so many kids together.” As she spoke, jump roping erupted led by Kaya Cusick, 11, with sister Hailey, 8, and Corinne Wilklow, 11, hopping in.

Of course, what would a block party be without grills? Three were onsite and in full use by 7:30, cooking bratwurst, hamburgers, chicken legs and steak cubes. At this point, night had fallen inspiring Marlene Lauterborn and Linda Raymond to set out candles along the food tables. These had grown to 30 feet in length and were topped with contributed dishes like brownies & cookies, salads, chips & dips, pizza wedges, fruit, and cheese & crackers. It was a plentiful bounty and the setting was momentarily tranquil until dashed by the banshee cries of a fleet of pre-pubescents racing scooters past.

The smell and glow of a firebowl that had been set up and sparked in one driveway added to the scene, as did various tunes cranking from an iDock. It also inspired marshmallow roasting. “Do you want it burnt or golden?” asked Delia Murphy, 11, of a pal.

A clear three-quarter moon in a star-speckled sky shown down on all and affirmed their good time. It was another great event for the Smith Street history books.