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Residents mark city’s founding with block parties

By Bethany Knipp

Manhattanites got a little neighborly on Saturday holding block parties across the city in celebration of Manhattan Day.

The annual event honors the city’s founding in June of 1855, when two groups of settlers worked together to form the city.

There were about 25 neighborhood parties for the event in its 14th year, which is sponsored by The Mercury.

“It’s just a chance to get to know people and put faces with names,” city commissioner Karen McCulloh said.

McCulloh lives in the City Park West neighborhood near 15th and Leavenworth streets.

At the neighborhood’s block party that McCulloh planned as president of the neighborhood’s association, about 40 people gathered in a large circle between Humboldt and Leavenworth on 15th Street, introducing themselves and welcoming others.

“It’s important to support each other,” City Park West resident Angie Fryer, 73, said. “It’s important to keep the quality of our neighborhood and the safety for our children.”

Fryer said being neighborly and having a sense of community is also important “to have a good life.”

“We’ve had some concerns.” she said. “We’ve gotten some, shall I say, political things resolved over the years, and it’s just a great neighborhood. We love it.”

Fryer is an administrator for a website,, that lets people in Manhattan join with others from their neighborhood online to share events and items for sale, to express safety concerns and make recommendations for services, like finding a plumber or electrician.

Fryer and her husband, Tom, 73, have lived in the neighborhood for 33 years.

Fryer said that ever since the couple moved in, the neighborhood has been united.

“I have the keys in my house to several people’s houses,” she said. “At least four people have the keys to my house. I mean, we just take care of each other.”

She said if someone new moves in, the new neighbor will get a plate of cookies or another form of comfort food.

Over at 10th and Colorado streets, another group was getting ready for its block party, grilling hot dogs, chicken legs, burgers and fish.

Alison Rusine, 29, along with her finance, Joe DeLeon, 31, and their neighbor Amanda Tross, 32, planned the neighborhood’s block party with invitations, a bubble machine for children and plenty of food, much of which was provided by Dillions and Ray’s Apple Market.

“We just moved in last month, and we really love the neighborhood. Everyone’s been really welcoming from the beginning,” Rusine said. “I’ve never lived in a place, a neighborhood, where you have such a sense of community.” Rusine said she likes that sense of community because it feels safer to know neighbors and easier to address concerns.

“Here it’s like everyone on the block is part of an extended family,” she said.

They also help each other, Rusine said. One time when her dogs got out of her yard after a neighbor left a gate open, Rusine said Tross put them back and left a note.

“It’s great to be in a place where neighbors look out for each other,” she said. “I think the block party brings everyone together and keeps that sense alive.”

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