Block_Party.jpgSubmitted photo

Children pose with Spider-Man during Saturday's block party on West South Street in Galesburg.

South Street party declared a success

Neighborhood unites for fun, food

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Tuesday, August 7, 2007

GALESBURG -A little bit of summer rain did not dampen the West South Street Neighborhood Watch party Saturday.

About 150 neighbors showed up for the block party held in the 400 block of West South Street and by all accounts, the party was a success.

Organizer Betty Shunick said planning the party was a lot of work but everyone had a great time.

"People, both black and white, just harmonized," Shunick said. "Everyone got along terrifically."

Shunick organized activities and games to rival many weekend festivals.

"We had volleyball, a 3-on-3 basketball tourney, face painting for kids and water balloons" she said. "Kids could get their pictures taken on a fire truck. We had a cotton candy machine and Spidey made an appearance. He was the biggest hit."

Music Makers donated DJ equipment and a young neighbor played rap tunes for the crowd. "We didn't allow dirty songs, but the kids just loved the rap," said Shunick.

A dunk tank was one event that Shunick charged participants. "Everything we did was free except the dunk tank," said Shunick. "We charged only 50 cents for three balls to dunk Alderman Bill Kendall, but all the profits were donated to the Party Time Riders. They use the money to buy school supplies for needy children, so the money raised stays in our neighborhood."

Director of Security at Knox College and former Galesburg Police Chief John Schlaf attended the event and said it was an outstanding turnout.

"I can't say enough about Betty and her efforts to bring it all together," said Schlaf. "Neighbors were out talking to each other, sharing stories and watching kids play. That speaks to the heart of what the program is about."

Schlaf said Knox College donated barbecue ribs and paper products. Gifts, drinks and two bicycles were donated by other businesses as well.

"Lowe's donated a lawn mower for the grand prize giveaway," explained Shunick. "Albert Fox was our grand prize winner."

Sgt. James Bradford, Neighborhood Watch coordinator for the GPD said it was one of the best neighborhood parties he had ever attended. "In a neighborhood that has had a lot of negative things, it was an extremely positive event and showed people can come together as a community," he said. "Adults, children and even some of the people the police departments deals with were on hand. There was a lot of dialogue and involvement and that is the true definition of a community."

Shunick, 70, said she is not in great health, but plans to be involved in next year's block party. "Everyone just loved this party so much," said Shunick. "Hopefully, more people will help next year to make it even better."

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