Seattle Night Out Report

As promised, we hopped on our bike and took a tour of some of the block parties around Wallingford tonight.

We couldn’t get more than two blocks without coming on an inviting party, food and drink offered, a chair to sit on and histories to share. Chris and Ward at 43rd and Latona have seen their street multiply with children these past few four or five years, Ben down on 1st above 41nd has been in the neighborhood since 1957 (he had to move over a bit when they took down his house to put in I-5; quite a stink was made at the time that so many beautiful old houses lost out to the more politically outspoken store-0wners along 99, where many argued the freeway should have run), but he was a newbie as far as CJ was concerned, she’d been in the same house on Sunnyside since she was born (her parents used to live in the small white Baptist church across from the Good Shepherd Center). She’s now 63 going on 35.

When you’re travelling to so many block parties in one night, you need to be careful about what you eat and drink. Nonetheless, special mention goes to the Massaged Kale Salad¬†over on 43rd, the homemade blueberry ice cream up on 46th and Corliss, the homeade strawberry ice cream further down south, the sushi and bratwurst on 1st Ave. The best way to have a buffet meal: spread it out across a neighborhood. You titrate your eating and drinking.

We visited small parties, just a few lawn chairs, people who already knew eachother catching up, and bigger affairs, with strangers transforming into friends before our eyes. There were badminton games, hockey and even a pie eating contest.

It was transformative, and the conversation came up a few times: why does this only happen once per year? How hard is it to organize, after all, just take the food you would have eating inside or in your background and carry it out front. Coordinate that time with others. You’re done. You don’t need the city, you just need some garbage cans to block off the street, some folding tables and some neighbors of like-mind.

It there’s interest, we volunteer to help organize.

  1. SeattleAlan said,

    We had a terrific block party last night, even though we couldn’t take over the street here on the 4700 block of Latona. Bus line, you know. We had a generous neighbor that has a double wide, flat driveway. Lots of neighbors with bbq hamburgers, sausages, lots of desserts and salads, beer and wine. Great time catching up, meeting all the new neighbors and comparing remodeling projects. We may try to do this again in early September while we have good weather!

    Wed, August 3 at 10:06 am
  2. Marcel said,

    Neighborhood gatherings are great, but if you plan to block a street, it is important to get the city’s approval. Otherwise, you can be charged with “pedestrian interference”. Of course, you can always have gatherings in a front yard instead of blocking the street. No one will object to that.

    Wed, August 3 at 10:53 am
  3. Brian said,

    @Marcel, That seems like a good reason to change the law of the city. Spontaneously blocking off a street so neighbors can share food and kids can play kick the can without worrying about cars (like I saw last night) should not be a crime.

    Wed, August 3 at 10:56 am
  4. Marcel said,

    I’ve done a little research on this. In the specific case of a block party, I don’t think it’s likely that anyone will be charged with a crime. But if there’s a complaint, a street inspector can come out and charge a $75 fee.

    The city makes it easy to get a free permit for a block party. You can find the rules at

    Rules aren’t always a bad thing. Spontaneously blocking off streets can interfere with emergency vehicles.

    Wed, August 3 at 11:27 am
  5. Patrick said,

    Is it possible that the Kale was massaged twice? Because we had some outstanding massaged kale salad way down on 39th and Bagley, too!

    Wed, August 3 at 6:31 pm
  6. Robert said,

    We had a great block party too but had trouble with people going through our road blocks and expecting us to move our tables.

    Did anyone else have any problems with this? Any suggestions on how to prevent it?

    Wed, August 3 at 9:56 pm
  7. Kimberly C said,

    @Robert: We had that problem a few years ago. Now we pull at least 4 recycling cans to each end of the block, rope them together and affix a big homemade sign that says: “Street Closed for Block Party.” No problem the past 2 years.

    Our block party this year (3800 block of Bagley) lasted a full hour longer than usual since we had such bright light from the new LED street lights. Still drinking wine at 10:30 pm in the middle of the street this year! We happily challenge the rest of you for 2012 :)

    Wed, August 3 at 10:44 pm
  8. Sandy said,

    I wish the block parties would not be scheduled on a Tuesday evening. I am a race judge in the Duck Dodge every Tuesday night, in the summer. Volunteer, of course.
    Why not have the block parties on Wednesdays? thanks.

    Wed, August 10 at 10:05 am
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