From floats to foreclosures: National Night Out across the Twin Cities


From raffles and root beer floats to solidarity and foreclosures, National Night Out block parties – official and unofficial – brought lots of people together across the Twin Cities. Here are some of their stories and photos.

South Minneapolis Sheila Regan stopped by the block party on 37th Street, between Park and Columbus:.

Neighbors Scott and Jeralyn Kretz and Bobby Hull. (Photo by Sheila Regan)

Tecora Parks has a wish for this year’s National Night Out: That next year, all the folks that are in foreclosure will be out of foreclosure. She spent the evening with her neighbors, underneath a large umbrella, as music played and kids and adults alike danced. About 40 people gathered between Park and Columbus Avenues at 37th Street in front of Bobby Hull’s home. Hull was in charge of the grill, and he said the neighborhood held a block party every year, but this year had special meaning since the community was supporting Parks and others who faced foreclosure.

St. Paul Deb Pleasants found about 50 people at a block party on Laurel Avenue in St. Paul.

Laurel Avenue was blocked off with a chair (Photo by Deb Pleasants)

“This year we had a motorcycle cop, a K-9 unit, an ambulance and a firetruck,” said Laurel Avenue resident Sara Dovre Wudali. “Actually the only thing that didn’t come were the barricades.” When the barricades didn’t arrive, neighbors on Laurel Ave and Dunlap in Saint Paul improvised by using lawn chairs to block off the street. At least 50 neighbors shared potluck dishes while kids rode bikes and scooters. Block captain and NNO organizer Amy Riley believes the annual celebration helps neighbors stay connected. “We’ve had some crime recently so we keep an eye out, watch out for each other,” she said.

South Minneapolis Sheila Regan found two block parties on Clinton Avenue.

Meymuna attended the Clinton Avenue block party. (Photo by Sheila Regan)

There were two block parties taking place between 31st and 32nd Street and Clinton for National Night Out. One took place in front of Rosemary William’s house, near 32nd Street, which was decorated with signs of support for her ongoing fight against foreclosure. The other party, near 31st street, was organized by Brian Finstad. Finstad said the organizers of both parties were encouraging people to float between the two. He said since the Williams’s party, which was sponsored by the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign (PPEHRC), had a more political focus, he wanted to have a more laid back party. There was plenty of fun on both sides of the block, though. Flo Razowsky, a volunteer with PPEHRC said the block parties were a way to “bring fun to the movement”, and to encourage community.

Rosemary Williams and others talk about the block party and about her home and neighborhood and solidarity.

Prospect Park, Minneapolis Justin Schell visited one of seven Prospect Park block parties in Minneapolis

Prospect Park block party (Photo by Justin Schell)

At the intersection of Orlin and Bedford in Minneapolis’ Prospect Park neighborhood, neighbors new and old mixed food, laughter, and conversation on National Night Out.
Block club leader Brook Magid Hart told me that “we spend so many months in the winter, we don’t get to see other as much. We take advantage of the summer.” For her, “National Night Out brings us all together.”
A table was set up with brochures, including tips on crime prevention. There was also a raffle, with Twins tickets, a Target gift card, and vouchers for free rides at the Mall of America as prizes. And there was plenty of food.
Before announcing the raffle winners, Hart told the roughly 60 people that turned out to the event—one of seven held in the Prospect Park/East River Road neighborhood alone—that this year featured the most new neighbors of any National Night Out in recent memory.
“People here are open and friendly,” she told me afterwards. “They not only care about themselves, but about their neighbors, the larger community, and the world.”

St. Paul Deb Pleasants visited an unofficial block party on Ashland Avenue in St. Paul.

Root beer floats are traditional on Ashland Avenue. (Photo by Deb Pleasants)

Patricia Sifferle has never let the fact that her block doesn’t have an official NNO celebration stop her from mingling with her neighbors. Each NNO for the past 12 years, Sifferle makes root beer floats for her neighbors. Nina Black has seen the neighborhood go through many changes during the 44 years she has lived there. A block that once was unfriendly to minorities now embraces the diversity of its neighbors. She believes it is because of caring neighbors like Sifferle. “Patty brings us together,” Black said.

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