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August 19. 2013 12:34AM

Building blocks, one party at a time, in the Gate City

NASHUA — Sept. 21 is not a major holiday or significant anniversary, but there will be plenty of reason to celebrate as organizers of a citywide block party attempt to put a modern twist on an old-fashioned neighborhood gathering.

“Strong neighborhoods are good for Nashua. There are still people out there who might not know who lives next to them or on the next street over,” said Shaun Nelson, executive director of the Nashua Police Athletic League. “People are often afraid of what they don’t know. It is important to get to know your neighbors.”

Hence the reasoning behind the first Nashua Block Party, which will take place simultaneously at four different locations throughout the city.

The brainchild of Chris Williams and Chris Malloy, the block party is designed to bring families together in a traditional neighborhood setting while also promoting community kindness, good food and local entertainment.

Williams, president of the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce, said several groups and organizations are helping to organize and sponsor the upcoming event, which he hopes will become an annual tradition in the city.

“Years ago, Nashua used to have an annual block party downtown, and people tell me all the time that it would be great if we could bring that back,” he said. “But this time around, we are going to bring the party to them.”

The four block parties will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Nashua High School North, the Police Athletic League on Ash Street, Atherton Park in French Hill and a fourth centralized location to be determined.

In addition to PAL and the Chamber, other groups such as NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire, Gate City Community Gardens and Aldermen Diane Sheehan, Kathy Vitale and Mary Ann Melizzi-Golja are helping to organize the four block parties.

The city has also offered to help with the event, agreeing to fund $4,000 of the $10,000 budget for the event, Williams said.

“We do something like this in Manchester from time-to-time, but nothing to this scale,” said Michelle Ducie of NeighborWorks Southern New Hampshire. “I am definitely excited about this project. Nashua is a very diverse city, and it will be great to see everyone come out and get to know each other — away from their computers and technology.”

Local restaurants will be sought to help provide food, while city bands and other entertainers will perform. Games for children and other fun activities are being planned to help make the event fun for people of all ages, according to organizers.

Malloy, of Community Events LLC, says he is thrilled to start making memories at the upcoming block party — memories he says will eventually be shared with future generations.

“I’ve only heard legends and stories about Nashua’s old block parties, and there seems to be a lot of nostalgia surrounding the gatherings,” said Malloy, hoping the new-age block parties will also become the fabric of local neighborhoods and what people will be talking about for years to come.

“We are optimistic this will take on a life of its own,” he said, explaining it is his hope that individual neighborhoods will soon organize their own, smaller block parties after attending the upcoming citywide event.

To help streamline that process, organizers will be distributing block party kits, which outline how to organize a neighborhood block party, what type of permits are necessary and who to contact in the city to move the process forward.

Two of the major sponsors for the event are Pennichuck Corp. and Saint Joseph’s Healthcare. The rain date for the block party is Sept. 27. For updates on the event, go to nashuablockparty.com. khoughton@newstote.com


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