Want to go?
WHAT: Hancock Street Block Party
WHEN: 1-8 p.m. Sunday, August 19
WHERE: Hancock Street between Neil and Monroe Streets
When hearing about the Hancock Street Block Party taking place Aug. 19 along Hancock Street between Neil and Monroe Streets, it’s hard not to think about the classic track by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, “Summertime.”
“The temperature’s about 88/Hop in the water plug just for old times sake/Break to ya crib change your clothes once more/Cause you're invited to a barbeque that's starting at 4/Sitting with your friends cause y'all reminisce….Little boys messin’ round with the girls playing double-dutch/While the DJ's spinning a tune as the old folks dance at your family reunion.”
Perhaps that description may seem a bit on the nose, but in a nutshell that epitomizes what the Hancock Street Block Party has become and what it means to the neighborhood it serves.
“Eight years ago Bonita Lofties [owner of Hancock Street’s Belle’s Place] and myself recognized a need for our kids to just have a great day before they started back to school,” said Hancock Street Block Party organizer and area resident Diedre Cole, a Washington D.C. native who has called Sandusky home for over two decades. “We started with about 50 children giving away hot dogs and chips and pop and collecting school supplies. Since that time, it has grown into a six-hour event blocking off two city blocks with music, food, dancing, inflatables and a dunk tank.”
Joining in on the community-wide Hancock St. Neighbors sponsored event will be police officers, firefighters, area churches and organizations. There’s also a motorcycle and old car show at the old school block party, which attracted over 1,000 people from around the neighborhood and beyond last year, with expectations for over 1,500 folks this Sunday.
“It brings everybody together,” Cole said. “We’ve never had a single incident or disruption. Everyone gets along, and it shows the kids that we care about them, that we want them to succeed and that we’re watching them. We have awards for kids who have done outstanding things in their community and in school academically. There are a lot of kids who can’t even afford to go to the fair so this is kind of like the last hurrah before we really buckle down and get serious about school.”
Part of the community giving back involves barbershops offering free haircuts, beauty salons contributing hairstyles for the girls, locals donating school uniforms and even one church handing out 500 fully loaded book bags.
“Our neighbors all get out and grill and do whatever it is they do,” Cole said. “It’s the kind of chance to eat local cuisine and catch up with people you haven’t seen in a long time. We noticed a lot of old timers using it as a place to meet, so we had to get special tables and tents just for them.”
While Cole may be recognized as a Sandusky City Commissioner, she stressed this event is outside of her position.
“I don’t do this under the auspices of the commission,” Cole said. “I’ve done this well before I was on the commission and I’ll keep doing it well after I leave.”
Finally, any chance Cole will get in the dunk tank?
“Uh-uh, no sir,” Cole laughed. “But there are probably a lot of people who would like to dunk me.”