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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Block Party enters its 21st year: Current students and alumni reflect

As the school year draws to a close, students are beginning to prepare to head home or move to summer housing once final exams are over. Before they go, though, there’ll be one last Grinnell College tradition that they can partake in: Block Party, now in its 21st year of operation.

The original Block Party, back in 1998, was a small event hosted by the occupants of 1017 High St., much unlike the all-campus celebration that it became the next year. The scale of the party continued to grow, to the point of having its budget nearly tripled in 2012.

Block Party is not sponsored by the College administration; rather, the planning committee receives funding from the Student Government Association (SGA). According to Dean of Students Ben Newhouse, the SGA funding typically covers “sunscreen, organizers, non-alcoholic beverages and food” at the event. Additional funding comes from T-shirt sales and alumni donations (this year, donations totaled over $1,000).

Daria Guzzo ’19 and Sidney Litke ’19 are this year’s Block Party Planning Committee co-chairs. Guzzo said the event is important to her because “so many students, faculty, staff, even parents come. Alumni from recent years come and celebrate the end of a great academic year at Grinnell, and [it’s] also the last good-bye before summer, which is really emotional when you have senior friends or you are a senior, but also just for everyone, because you make really lasting friendships here, [and] it’s really just a great capstone to celebrate those things.”

Litke added, “[We have] different student bands, and even community bands, coming in and performing, so [we’re trying to be] a space for everyone.”

Ariel Keller ’17 has fond memories of the time she spent attending and planning Block Party. She said, “My experiences with Block Party were overall very positive; I enjoyed attending it every year, and I enjoyed even more to help plan it, because I felt like it was a way to celebrate the end of the year with my classmates.” Keller said that she liked the collaborative aspects of Block Party, particularly the ways in which the planning committee worked with the school administration and the Grinnell Police Department to ensure a smoothly-run event.

Keller would like to see Block Party continue at Grinnell. “[The idea of Block Party ending] does sadden me, just because of the memories I have aligned with it. … I think a lot of people do have fond memories of it,” she said.

Litke and Guzzo both emphasized the importance, to them, of the community-building aspect of Block Party. Guzzo said, “I think that, especially in the town of Grinnell, it’s important for students to have some place to go after finals on the last day of school and spend it together, with a large group of friends. … There’s no place better than reserving a safe part of a street to let everybody be together, as opposed to having small pockets of individual groups hanging out at the end of the school year.” In addition, said Litke, “Block Party is a space for all Grinnellians. … It’s the end of the year, we should all celebrate together as a community.”

Julia Broeker ’17, Kathryn Yetter ’18 and Linnea Schurig ’17, enjoying their time outside on High Street during block party in the spring of 2017.
Photo contributed
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