Ridgewood residents held a block party on Saturday, Aug. 28, on Pauline LeBlond Way to bring their community together after many neighbors struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers Ralph Caraballo and Haruka Aoki and other residents of the block came together with the idea to celebrate the tenacity of their community. Caraballo said there were about seven deaths on Pauline LeBlond Way, including his father.
“It was a hard last summer with the pandemic and social unrest,” Caraballo said.
The organizers said about 80 people from around the area showed up, grilling, dancing and socializing.
“There were kids on each side of the block who never mingled, but at the block party, they were,” Caraballo said. “The next day, I came outside, and these same kids that never used to cross the street and hang out were playing together. If anything, I was happy about that.”
Caraballo and Aoki said that people have obviously been sticking to themselves throughout the pandemic, but also because of personal hardships.
“It was really nice to get together with the community, and that’s one of the best things about New York City,” Aoki said. “It’s all about the community, the support and the love.”
Caraballo and Aoki, two graphic designers, were able to drum up excitement over the event by making their own flyers and posting them around the block. They also had the support of the 104th Precinct and local community board.
“People were just starting to stay inside and not communicate with each other because of the pandemic, but also because of people’s losses and stresses,” Caraballo said. “But that was the intent: to just have a day without that.”
Aoki herself struggled through the pandemic as she transitioned into an independent artist, but her block got her through it.
“I wasn’t used to having my own workflow and making a timeline for myself,” Aoki said. “A lot of people on my block helped me out. I was so uncertain of myself, but my neighbors really helped me out in terms of mental health.”
The organizers are planning on holding another block party next year since this get-together was such a hit.