It all started in 2009, the year before the Olympics when some of the neighbours on Greenwood Way in Garibaldi Highlands decided that they wanted to hold an event to bring together all the folks living on our street.
Lots of people have street parties but I’m sure very few would reach the extreme of those on Greenwood Way!
The year 2009 was the year that all the Sea to Sky was preparing for the Olympics. Miller Capilano brought Larry, one of their senior executives, out of retirement to head things up and it just so happened that he lived on Greenwood Way.
Larry became part of our planning committee.
We organised many activities for 2009 such as archery, a bicycle obstacle course, a kid’s tent, live music, horseshoes and a potluck BBQ. Later in the evening, we arranged a portable outdoor fire pit in the middle of the cul-de-sac with a sing-along at the end of the evening.
Larry suggested that we also have beach volleyball! My comment was that unfortunately, we didn’t have a beach. Larry’s reply was — “That could be arranged!” He had a couple of truckloads of sand delivered and dumped on the cul-de-sac where some of the neighbours raked it into a volleyball court.
Another neighbour was a physical education teacher at Don Ross Secondary School and provided us with a net and volleyballs. The net was held up by a couple of huge concrete post holders (also provided by Miller Capilano), and lo and behold, we had beach volleyball at our very first Block Party on Greenwood Way!
We continued to follow this pattern of activities for the next two years (sadly, with the exception of the beach volleyball). In 2010, since I was a Biathlon Official during the Olympics, we decided to include biathlon laser rifles as an additional activity. This allowed folks to learn about the sport and to try their hand at shooting a biathlon rifle in a very safe manner, and we have included them every year since!
We took a break between 2011 and 2019 because things had become so complex and involved so much work that it needed more people to help out — we even had a Bouncy Castle in 2011! Thus, as is so common with this kind of event, the organization seems to fall to the few willing to do it.
But, by the time 2019 arrived, there were quite a few new folks who were younger and very keen to get to know their neighbours. When they heard about our previous block parties quite a few offered to pitch in, and we re-kindled the event. It was a mild success, but the enthusiasm was there to hold another.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible in 2020 due to COVID-19 so this year all that pent-up energy was ready to let loose. As in previous years, we handed out flyers to the surrounding streets and even posted a sign at the entrance to the trail to Merrill Park, announcing that there would be a street party and to watch for the date to be posted. Later, another sign announced the date of Saturday August 28th.
This year we also used Facebook to promote the event and I’m not sure if that’s what did it, but the turnout was extremely good! We estimate that there were somewhere around 200 people in attendance over the entire day! As usual we offered archery, biathlon laser rifles, horseshoes, a kid’s tent with face painting and other children’s activities, an information tent, live music all day and we concluded with a jam session at the end of the evening.
There was also bocce, beginner’s slacklining, a bicycle obstacle course, giant Jenga, a bean bag toss and food trucks rather than a BBQ (largely due to COVID-19 concerns). Island Oasis and Carte Diem were there right from the beginning and ready to serve food and liquid refreshment for all the guests. They did extremely well and were well received! This year for the very first time we also established a ‘House Cup’ awarded to the winning ‘house’ or street address.
This cup will return the following year and then be passed on to the next year’s winner. In order to win the cup, you are asked to choose 4/6 possible activities. You can practise as much as you like but you get only 1 official score recorded on the activity sheet (at each activity) by someone not living at your house. First place receives 1 point, second place 2 points and so on. The team with the closest score to 4 wins the trophy.
This year was certainly a big success, and we hope to carry on the tradition now that there is such enthusiasm from the residents on Greenwood Way and apparently all those in attendance! We did not promote this event in advance so as to keep the number in attendance to something reasonable for just one street.
Carolyn Grass and her husband, Ihor Zalubniak, have been organising the block party in Garibaldi Highlands since 2009.