The city of Manhattan celebrated its founding on Saturday with at least 25 neighborhoods holding block parties.
This is the 13th years for the event, which is always held the first Saturday in June to commemorate the time when two groups of settlers merged to form the city of Manhattan. The event’s main goal — to encourage neighbors to mingle, building new friendships and strengthening existing ones — is the only requirement for the gathering; otherwise the festivities are customized to each party.
“This is a newer neighborhood, and this is the first year we’ve participated in Manhattan Day, but we’ve always wanted to get people together,” said Mike Shepherd.
Mike and his wife, Margaret, who were hosts to the block party for Mill Valley Circle and the neighboring circle behind their property, expected 60 to 70 neighbors to turn out by the end of the afternoon for their potluck.
This year Dillon’s donated hot dog and hamburger buns, and Ray’s Apple Market donated hot dogs. Manhattan’s city government also waived the usual fees to close off streets for Saturday’s block parties.
While the adults socialized at the Mill Valley Circle party, the children, of all ages, played baseball, basketball, swung and played tag with their neighbors and newly made friends.
“It is chilly, but I like it; I lived in Germany and it snowed every day so I’m used to it,” said 7-year-old Olivia Mangieri. “I met new friends today.”
For 10-year-old Igor Sheshulcov, who was trying to play wiffle ball, the wind was a little more of a nuisance.
“We’re still playing even though it is harder because of the wind,” he said.
While the Shepherds were the hosts, Katrina Lewison was the organizer of event for their neighborhood. She came to the party with family members.
“I had seen the event advertised, and I saw it as an opportunity to get the neighbors together,” she said.
The Lewisons are an Army family and moved to Manhattan roughly two years ago. They said they have been very pleased with the welcoming nature of the community but wanted to do more to bring the neighborhood together.
“In the Army, a sense of community is automatic,” Lewison said. “Outside of the Army it isn’t always automatic, and this was a great excuse.”