FIRST PERSON - This 4th of July on Masselin Avenue is a very special day.
This year we will be celebrating our thirty-third 4th of July block party. The day starts with volunteers putting up small American flags on each lawn and later in the afternoon the street is blocked so volunteers can start stringing decorations across it.
Around 4 PM the tables and chairs start appearing close to 8th Street with early jockeying for space under the shade trees. Soon after that the barbecues appear, the DJ shows up, and the party is on.
The Star Spangled Banner is sung, the DJ lays out some good dance music, old neighbors who used to live on the block show up, and the tie between past and present is renewed.
I first moved onto the block 27 years ago and was immediately informed that we did a 4th of July block party and a progressive Christmas-Chanukah holiday party. I didn’t quite get what it was all about and it took several years before I made my first 4th of July party. What I discovered that day has forever tied me to Masselin Avenue and the Miracle Mile.
We are neighbors in a sense that is rarely seen today. We have watched families raised, children leave to start their own lives and then return again on the 4th of July. We’ve celebrated and grieved with each other, protected and supported each other. We’ve embraced new arrivals on the street and drawn them into our Masselin family.
On that day our children run and play on the street. Contests are held, bicycles are decorated, and a piñata is hung – and pummeled to the delight of all. The police and fire departments are invited and show up as their schedules permit. Good food and drink are consumed and, at some point during the day, I will find myself taking in a scene that can only be described as a living Norman Rockwell painting.
My wife will see that faraway look in my eyes and know that I am reliving a part of my life growing up that is for the most part gone from the American scene – but on the 4th of July on Masselin Avenue it all comes back again and I realize how truly blessed we are to live here in the heart of the wonderful Miracle Mile.
(Jim O’Sullivan is president of the Miracle Mile Residential Association … MMRA. This view point was posted first in the excellent MMRA Newsletter, edited by Ken Hixon)
Vol 11 Issue 54
Pub: July 5, 2013