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Block party to promote sense of community in Norman

Neighborhoods where people know one another are better equipped to fight crime, Norman association leaders say.
BY ANNETTE PRICE Published: March 31, 2012

— Volunteers will be closing a busy neighborhood street on Saturday in an effort to open new roads within the community.

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the I Love My Neighborhood block party from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday. The event is coordinated by the Center for Children and Families, Wilson Elementary School and Trinity Baptist Church. Most activities will be in the church parking lot, 801 N Peters Ave. Peters will be closed between Rich and Frank streets.

Jessica Hutchinson, senior program specialist for the Center for Children and Families, said one of the goals is to reduce community isolation.

“As our culture grows, we tend to become more independent. Our families function behind closed doors. Our goal is to get people out, to get people connected, to get events within the neighborhood and bring resources in.”

Bridging a gap

This marks the 12th year for the block party, which serves one of Norman's earliest neighborhoods, the Old Silk Stocking district. Cherrie Birden, principal of Wilson Elementary, said it was originally conceived to bridge the generation gap in the neighborhood.

“We wanted to develop our sense of community since young families were moving into a neighborhood with a lot of senior citizens,” she said. “After we started, we stopped getting calls about kids picking flowers and other complaints, and started receiving calls about kids riding their bikes in the streets. People were more concerned about their safety.”

Hutchinson said the party has changed.

“It used to be on a weekday evening, and it grew to the point it was so large and we wanted to draw in as many people as possible. Saturday afternoon provided that family-fun carnival opportunity,” Hutchinson said.

Ashley Dickson of the Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma said social neighbors create a sense of community and can help make their neighborhoods safer.

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