What’s the story behind the BPC Block Party?

blockparty_3139.jpgAfter post-9/11 recovery efforts ended in the spring of 2002, a group of Battery Park City residents got together to continue the neighborhood’s emotional recovery and encourage its rebirth. In September 2002, this informal group launched the first Battery Park City Block Party.

Ten years later, members of this same group are planning the Tenth Anniversary Block Party, slated for the same month as the opening of the National 9/11 Memorial Plaza.

“The sentiment behind the first block party was to say that we, the residents and businesses of Battery Park City, are back and want to celebrate the bond that grew out of 9/11, a shared experience and a difficult year, and forge our community into something stronger than before,” said Rosalie Joseph, a co-organizer of the block party. In addition to Ms. Joseph, the first block party committee included 24 residents: co-organizer Anthony Notaro, as well as Joan Cappellano, Martha Gallo, Tammy Meltzer, Tom Goodkind, Craig Hall, Jeff and Paula Galloway, Deborah DiIorio, Linda Velez, Marti Cohen Wolfe, Greer Griffiths, Sudhir Jane, Angela Benfield, Ken Ard, Bob Townley, Maria Leo, Susan McNamara, Jamie Monroe, Vicki Winters, Patricia White Watson, Patsy Polatchek, and Jane Abrams.

To start the first block party, the committee approached the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) and asked for their assistance in creating the event. “Without hesitation, they were on board along with the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy [BPCPC] and have been ever since,” recalled Ms. Joseph. “For the past 10 years they have been our partners along with the former Embassy Suites.”

The concept at the heart of each block party is that Battery Park City is a small town in the Big Apple, she said, adding that “our party is unlike other block parties in other neighborhoods. We don’t have outside vendors. We showcase local restaurants, local vendors and local talent. It’s all about our community.”

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Ms. Joseph expects to have back this year many of the key elements that have been part of the block party in the past: restaurant and vendor tents, a variety show, an apple pie contest, a seniors’ flea market, local artists’ booths, a dog parade, a bubble gum contest, and children’s rides and activities coordinated by Bob Townley of Manhattan Youth.

In addition, some new events are planned, such as a green area and activities, an Asphalt Green sports contest area, and a parade with local talent, such as the Tri-Battery Pops. To highlight the community feeling of this year’s party, the organizers are also providing a family/neighbors table area where families and groups of friends can congregate.

At the 2011 block party, as in past years, the organizing committee will hand out community service awards to Downtown residents who have contributed to the improvement of Battery Park City. Past winners have included the Broadsheet, the BPCA and BPCPC, Sid Baumgarten and the Battery Park City Community Emergency Response Team, and Linda Belfer, chair of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1). Other award recipients have included CB1 members Jeff Galloway, Ruth Ohman, and Tom Goodkind, who is also the conductor

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of the Tri-Battery Pops. Additional winners have included Susan Duncan of Church Street School of Music and Art, Craig Hall of the World Trade Center Residents Coalition, Manhattan Youth executive director Bob Townley, and the Seniors Organization. Additionally, the organizing committee selects a Neighbor of the Year Award winner. Past years’ winners have included Joan Cappellano and Anthony Notaro.

Since this year’s party heralds a decade of recovery and the completion of Battery Park City’s master plan, organizers want to make a special effort to involve volunteers who have not had a chance to take part before this year, as well as welcoming back organizers and volunteers from earlier years, some of whom have moved away.