ST. ALBANS CITY — Approximately 400 people turned out for the fifth annual block party in Ward 3 of St. Albans City.

This year the party moved from its original location at Turning Point to the lawn in front of Food City, which also provided all of the food, according to organizer Tammi DiFranco, a former city councilor for Ward 3. “They’re above and beyond,” she said of the company.

In addition to free food, there was also live music, a bouncy house, a St. Albans City fire truck for kids to explore, and activities for children provided by local community groups.

block building

Sophia LaPierre, kneeling, and a new friend build with giant blocks during Saturday’s block party.

The first year, DiFranco said she and her husband Brian, a police officer, decided to organize the party because they didn’t like what was happening in their neighborhood and wanted something positive. She asked Turning Point for permission to use their parking lot for the event.

Each year since, it’s gotten bigger.

“We try to do it as our summer kickoff,” said DiFranco. The block party is followed by neighborhood cookouts in Houghton Park and a Halloween Party in which the police block off the street. There are usually four to five events over the course of the summer and fall, she said, “just for something good and fun.”

This year the Traveling Storyteller volunteered to do a puppet show.

Franklin County Caring Communities, Let’s Grow Kids, and the Vermont Foundation for Recovery were on hand to provide information and activities. Rachel Whiting’s Hula Hooping brought the hula hoops kids and adults were enjoying.

“If you want to be here, you have to have something fun for kids,” said DiFranco of the organizations taking part. “We want everybody to be contributing.”

Publicity for the event focuses mainly on the neighborhood, with cards announcing the time and location dropped off at houses and area organizations such as the food shelf and homeless shelter.

face painting

Michelle Bessette paints a ‘necklace’ on a partygoer at the Let’s Grow Kids table.

“A lot of people in this neighborhood don’t have cars,” said DiFranco. She said she believes seeing neighbors at the block party, having them become familiar faces, “makes people friendlier” when they see their neighbors passing on the street.

She and her husband are often asked when the party will be. “People look forward to it,” she said.

In addition to Food City and Turning Point, the Church of the Rock’s community outreach group, Rise Up, also assists with organizing the event.