Afternoon of block party fun brings neighborhood together

  • Tara Bossard-Kruger, 12, of Dummerston, Vermont, a student at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vermont, performs at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday, August 20. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Tara Bossard-Kruger, 12, of Dummerston, Vt., a student at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vt., performs at Saturday’s block party. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Serafina Walker, 13, of Greenfield, of the youth circus Circus Smirkus, performs at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday, August 20. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Lydia Helmstadter, 11, of Montague, a student at the New England Center for Circus Arts in Brattleboro, Vermont, performs at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday, August 20. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Kristina Kostov, 8, of Greenfield, throws a ball at the lever of a dunk tank in attempt to dunk Bob Gilmore, of Greenfield at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday, August 20. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Jackson Gaida, 4, of Greenfield, throws a ball at the lever of a dunk tank in attempt to dunk Bob Gilmore, of Greenfield at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday, August 20. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

  • Bob Gilmore of Greenfield plunges into the dunk tank at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday.

  • Serafina Walker, 13, of Greenfield, of the youth circus Circus Smirkus, performs at the Federal Street block party at Saint James Episcopal Church in Greenfield Saturday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt—Matt Burkhartt

Recorder Staff
Published: 8/20/2016 6:13:46 PM

GREENFIELD — Thirteen-year-old Serafina Walker seemed to dance in midair, twisting and twirling while suspended by two brightly colored straps. The surrounding crowd watched, mesmerized, and cheered enthusiastically each time Walker landed a trick.

Walker, a Greenfield resident, was one of three pupils of the New England Center for Circus Arts who performed to the delight of hundreds of Greenfield residents at the third annual Federal Street Block Party, held from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on the lawn next to the St. James Episcopal Church.

The free event also featured hula hooping, a dunk tank, juggling lessons, raffles, a stilt walker, badminton, a Slip ‘n’ Slide, snow cones, a variety of food and music by DJ Bobby C.

Dennis O’Rourke, a member of the church and organizer of the event, said all proceeds exceeding the cost of the party will be donated to the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, a peer-run community providing support for victims of trauma, addiction, psychiatric diagnoses and other challenges. The event raised money through raffles for four box seat tickets to a September Red Sox game and gift certificates to local businesses.

“We always struggle for funding,” said Jesse Soderstrom, a peer advocate with the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community. Soderstrom said the money would be used to cover regular expenses and the cost of services.

“We’re not out here to make a dollar,” O’Rourke said. “We’re here to make people smile.”

Last year, event proceeds were donated to Salvation Army, Community Action Family Center and the Recover Project.

Rev. Heather Blais, pastor of St. James Episcopal Church, said the event started three years ago to pursue “that old-fashioned sense of getting to know your neighbor.”

“It all started from a direction from our pastor to just go out and get to know people,” O’Rourke said.

Throughout the day, residents chatted underneath a large red and white striped tent and watched the circus performers in their shows at 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Twelve-year-old Tara Bossard-Kruger of Dummerston, Vt., performed on the aerial hoop, and 11-year-old Lydia Helmstadter of Montague demonstrated her ability to balance on a large blue ball while juggling or hula hooping.

Children also lined up across the lawn to try their hands at the dunk tank. Both Blais and O’Rourke took turns getting dunked on the hot day.

“The goal is really just to bring the community together and build relationships,” Blais said of the event.

“People believe in each other and want to help each other,” O’Rourke added. “We want to enhance friendship and just some good feelings.”




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