Block Party planning startsOrganizers for the first Community Block Party last year describe it as a “huge success” and are looking to make this year’s event bigger and better.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
Organizers for the first Community Block Party last year describe it as a “huge success” and are looking to make this year’s event bigger and better.
The block party is scheduled for Aug. 27, during orientation for Jamestown College freshmen. The idea is to bring together college students and the community in a street fair atmosphere, with entertainment, booths, prizes and activities for all ages.
“It’s a way to introduce college students to Jamestown and vice versa,” said Co-chair Gary Van Zinderen. Van Zinderen represents the college. “We revamped orientation to include this as a way to break down invisible barriers between the college and the community.”
The planning committee has just begun to organize this year’s event, and what it needs now is to get the message out to businesses and organizations in Jamestown about participation and support.
“This is the way college students can get introduced to services, organizations and businesses in town and those businesses and organizations can get to know the students,” said JoDee Rasmusson, director of the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, which also has a representative on the committee.
This year the planning committee wants to put more of the community into the Community Block Party. Letters have gone out to last year’s participants and sponsors asking them to join the fun again.
“We had so many groups involved last year, but we want more this year,” said Co-chair Lisa Hicks, who represents the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. “Anyone who wants a booth can have one. We want organizations to begin planning their participation.”
There’s no charge for booths, which last year were set up by local churches, businesses and organizations. Hicks said the booths are for anyone who wants to be known to students.
The street fair also includes dunking tanks, games and activities for any age. From the air games and the “wormmobile” for the youngsters to karaoke and a DJ providing music for the older crowd, the co-chairs believe the block party can offer something for everyone.
“It’s carnival fun that’s interactive,” Van Zinderen said.
The first block party boasted 1,000 students and community members. Van Zinderen believes this year’s party could easily draw 4,000. It’s free food and drink along with giveaways, music and games. All it takes to achieve that is more participation by businesses and organizations along with donations and business sponsorships.
“Typically, everything’s free at the block party, so we depend on donations and sponsorships to cover the cost of putting it on,” Hicks said.
Although the block party is targeted toward the incoming freshmen, it was scheduled later in the week so returning college students could also attend. Hicks added that this year the invitation to join the party would also go out to high school students.
The new college students going through orientation are given a t-shirt and a punch card. If they visit every booth, they’re eligible for the drawings. Van Zinderen said last year there were a lot of good prizes donated for the drawings, including a Nintendo Wii game console.
“The business community really came through for us,” Hicks added.
As well as organizations and businesses to participate, the committee is looking for volunteers. Hicks said the college track team has already volunteered to help.
“We’ll be asking all the college teams to help us set up, tear down and man booths,” she said.
Anyone interested in participating in any way or volunteering, can call Hicks at 252-6861 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The committee also recognizes many Jamestown residents may not understand they’re invited too. Although Aug. 27 is a long way away and planning for the event is only beginning, the co-chairs want people to circle the date.
“This is about getting the community here to meet the students,” Van Zinderen said.
The block party will be held on two blocks of First Avenue from First Street to Third Street South and, depending on participation, along the side streets. If there’s rain, the party will move into the Civic Center.
“The public is invited. The block party is for everyone,” Rasmusson said.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453
or by e-mail at email@example.com