Almanac

Community - December 29, 2010

A neighborhood Christmas party

Submitted by Mike Lanza, a blogger at Playborhood.com and a resident of the Allied Arts neighborhood in Menlo Park.

Santa Claus came to our front yard in Allied Arts on Sunday, Dec. 19. So did an elf, Frosty, and Rudolph. A brass ensemble, the Menlo Brass Quintet, came by to play Christmas songs like "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," "Sleigh Ride," and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing."

Also, about 60 or so neighbors and friends came. Adults sang, ate, drank, and chatted. Kids got their pictures taken with Santa, got their faces painted by the elf, and played. Not all those who came were formally invited, I'm happy to say. Some neighbors heard the music and came over spontaneously. This wouldn't have happened if we had had this party inside our house or at some public venue like a park or restaurant.

Rain came, too, but we were prepared. I rented two big tents like the ones that you might see at an outdoor wedding during rainy season.

It was an absolutely wonderful event, especially because we did it at home. Because we did it here, we were able to share some great moments with our neighbors. Our Jewish neighbor Andy wore the Frosty costume to the delight of many kids, including his own, until he couldn't take it anymore — the head was hot and he could hardly see. His kids got a photo with Santa for the first time.

In addition, we accumulated many great memories that are embedded in our home, rather than in some anonymous park or mall. All the kids were already very familiar with our really fun front and back yards, so they played like crazy all over the place when they weren't hanging with Santa and the other characters. They jumped on the trampoline in back, drew on the white board in front, and scootered up and down the sidewalk.

In short, beyond being great fun, this was a very memorable, meaningful event for us, our neighborhood, and our friends. I'm thinking now that we should make this a tradition and have a neighborhood Christmas party like this every year.

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