North Bend should be very proud in how well its June 27 Centennial Block Party went off.
Held on a gloriously sunny afternoon, the Block Party drew what looked like thousands of people to the music, stage events, contests and children’s activities, all in celebration of North Bend’s first hundred years as a city.
Crowds gathered to watch locals strut with their dogs, gobble down enormous hamburgers or compete in a weight-shifting strong-man and strong-woman challenge. Spontaneous dancing on the streets broke out, and a big crowd gathered to see North Bend’s national champion Panther Pride unicycle team do their thing.
More than that, the event was a successful showcase of downtown North Bend businesses. As I strolled up and down the street, the downtown shops were really hopping. Many merchants were also showing off what they do best in tents on the sidewalks, or just had fun connecting with the community and thier neighbors.
Looking at the happy, sunburnt crowds, my mind went back to the first meetings last winter when the city and local businesses and arts groups got together and planted the first seeds of the Block Party. Seeds that quickly sprouted into a whirlwind of grass-roots volunteerism, talent, creativity and enthusiasm. Under the leadership of Jolene Kelly and Gina Estep, the Block Party was truly a great example of how a community can come together to succeed. It also offers a lesson that other communities should take to heart during challenging economic times like these.
With the addition of the Tanner neighborhood and more residents on the way, North Bend is growing. Events like the Block Party are great ways that local residents can develop and strengthen a sense of place, a sense of community and sense of belonging. It doesn’t take just heavy snows or 500 year floods to bring people together. It also takes Celebration. The more that people spend time with their neighbors and connect with their community, the more likely they are to take an active role in city, schools, church and local volunteer organizations — all helping make this Valley an even better place to live, work and raise families.
Now that they’ve gotten a little rest, organizers are already thinking about doing another party. With the burgeoning entrepreneurial spirit in North Bend, I am sure we won’t have to wait another hundred years for such a welcome combination of weather, great events and booming business.
Although next time, I’ll probably just wear jeans!