Walter Mencken 7 p.m., Dec. 10
Saturday September 17, 2011: In a day that started gloomy and overcast, I stepped outside around 9:00 AM to calm my teething daughter. The fresh air always seems to soothe the aching teeth that a typical 5-month old experiences. Today we planned on attending the Second Annual Block Party at Silver Wing Park, in Otay Mesa, located just blocks from our house.
From our front porch I could see classic cars lining up along the street and I could hear music from a distance playing while they set up for the 10:00 AM party. As someone who lived on this street since birth and has many fond memories at Silver Wing Park, I was excited to finally share my daughter’s first event at the same park. She has visited the park many times, but today was her first actual “event.” South Bay parks are not known for throwing such festivities.
Silver Wing Park overlooks Montgomery Middle School. Even more spectacular is the view to the west of the wing at Montgomery Waller Park and off in the distance, in plain view, is the San Diego shoreline. I have a lot of history with Silver Wing Park. In the early 80’s Silver Wing had a portable pool set up on the concrete area in front of the Recreation Center; this is where I learned how to swim. If you were to peruse through my old family albums, you would see various birthdays with Silver Wing Park as the backdrop. In my teens we moved out of the neighborhood to Chula Vista but after college I asked my parents if I could be a tenant in the original house, which they still owned. Ten years later I am now living with my wife and daughter in the same house, raising a family of my own.
While walking through Silver Wing Park in late August with my wife and daughter, we noticed the sign, “Block Party: September 11, 2011.” At that point my wife and I agreed we’d attend because it was so close to home and because we wanted to support a community event. When we walked by the following week, we noticed someone had superimposed, (in a makeshift manner), a 17 on top of the original date to indicate the date change. The City of San Diego Park and Recreation Department pushing back the event date did not diminish my excitement.
On the day of the event, we arrived around 11:00 AM and the place was already filled with a San Diego Fire Department fire truck and a cadre of classic cars and trucks parked on the lawn. There was even a fixed up bike with a custom box behind it that housed a boom box. Although I am not sure if the kid with the bike was part of the display or was from the neighborhood and wanted to show off his wheels on his own accord, for today there was an unusually larger crowd at the park.
We walked along the isle of booths and we first spoke to a SDGE representative, who was offering savings plans and pamphlets on energy savings tips. There were a few vendors selling purses or toys, but for the most part, the booths were set up by local organizations, like the YMCA that recently opened down the street.
We walked to the UEI booth so my wife could ask about their course offerings for her family and I noticed the booth next to us. It was for Council Member, David Alvarez who was approaching a family strolling by. I told my wife we should stop by to meet him.
He greeted us and asked about our daughter’s age and then we swapped a few baby stories. I wanted to ask him about the rules governing the keeping of live chickens on a residential premise because our neighbors have some loud mouth fowls that wake us up every morning, but I was embarrassed to dump that on him after just meeting him.
As we left and headed towards the food area pass the stage where a group of teenagers who said they would be playing Beatles music were setting up, when a lady chased us down and said, “Hey I overheard you next to the Council Member’s booth and I wanted to give you this.” It was a baby onesie from the local Otay Mesa-Nestor Library. “I’m sorry, we didn’t see your booth,” I said accepting the gift, “we would have stopped by because my wife was looking for a group reading program for our baby.” She walked us back to the City Library booth and told us of the yoga classes and other activities at the local library. Unfortunately, she also mentioned that a lot of programs have been cut but they were looking for volunteers for the group reading program.
We decided to head over to the food area that was situated in the encaged basketball courts. They had various vendors. My wife said she wanted to spread the cash and support as many different vendors as we can. So we bought a hotdog from the first canopy we saw (which happened to be from the Girl Scouts of America), a hamburger from the South Western College team, a cup cake from a local family selling baked goods and I also bought an Arizona Tea from two high school kids selling sodas and water.
The band was now belting out, “She loves you, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
We finished our lunch on the concrete tables by the softball fields and listened to the band play a medley of Beatles music.
“I wish your dad was here to hear this,” I sad to my wife, as her father is an avid Beatles fanatic. “I know.” She says, “He would have been up there dancing.”
We both laughed, as it was too easy to picture him gyrating to the beat of the Beatles music. Her father is not afraid to break into a James Brown style dance-off in public. (You can reference our wedding video for one instance of such occasion.)
As we walked back my wife tells my daughter who hangs, forward facing, in front of her on an ergo baby carrier, “Baby, look how your park has transformed. It’s not like how it usually is during our walks.”
The baby chomped happily on the soft part of the ergo baby carrier.
The park was indeed transformed and the local residents experienced live music, dancing and local food. The local businesses and organizations had a chance to spotlight the value they bring to the neighborhood. It is events like this that can uplift the community spirit and bring pride back to an area.
The sun crept out of the clouds long enough for us to start looking for shade for the baby. What started off gloomy and overcast turned out to be a sun-filled day and a great experience for my daughter at the Second Annual Silver Wing Park Block Party. I look forward to next year when my daughter will be a little older and she can participate in the fun, games and prizes they had for children. Maybe I’ll muster the courage to ask David Alvarez how we can outlaw boisterous chickens in our neighborhood.