Annual Block Party Celebrates Yearlong Friendships

Citrus Heights, CA  |  By Elise Spleiss
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A big gathering of grateful neighbors. Photo by Elise Spleiss

Citrus Heights, CA (MPG) – On July 15, the Wooddale Way neighborhood in Citrus Heights came out in force once again for their 7th annual ‘block party’. Despite temperatures in the 90’s at 7:30 pm, forty families gathered at the home of Lamar and Van Fullmer to celebrate summer and the close bond they share throughout the year.

Families living on the blocks surrounding the Fullmers arrived bearing their favorite pot luck dish to share with those they see every day, new friends they are about to meet, and those they have not seen since the last party.  Many pick up where they left off as if no time has passed.         

This tradition began in 2010, the result of a lifetime of living in Citrus Heights. Lamar had moved to Citrus Heights with his family in 1945 and lived in a house on Greenback Lane. He attended kindergarten at the old Community Center (the old schoolhouse), Sylvan Middle School, and San Juan High School.      

He remembered the simpler life when Greenback was a two-lane dirt road with huge oak trees forming an arch across the road, and when Sunrise was a gravel road which ended at Greenback.  Lamar and his wife Van, both 75, have lived in their home on Wooddale since 1975. Following their retirement in 2004, Lamar was looking for a way to recapture some of the simpler life he missed.        

The first block party, with 10 families and 15 children has grown to over 40 families with 30 children. All ages, ethnicities and family structure are represented. This annual homecoming has brought their neighborhood together in ways that will span the entire year.      

Neighbors who move away return each year for the event. Prospective buyers hear about the camaraderie which links neighbors and want to be part of it. The result is a Neighborhood Watch atmosphere where an unknown car parked on the corner will be reported and a neighbor not seen for a few days will receive a wellness check.

Neighborly interaction continues throughout the year, with meals provided for those recovering from surgery or illness, lawns mowed and garbage cans taken out for those who need it.  They also pick up mail, take care of pets and water plants for those on vacation.

The Fullmer’s own relationship with a family who moved here from Romania 16 year ago is a testament to the bonds formed on and around Wooddale. Over 16 years, Lamar has become an honorary grandpa to the family’s six boys ages 7 to 15 years, teaching them to be honorable and productive young men. They have full use of the Fullmer’s computer and game room in exchange doing their own chores and important tasks that serve their neighbors. This relationship has benefitted both families and is ongoing. Lamar says, “we really care about each other”.

Ten new families moved into the area recently. This year the party spilled out onto the front lawn. It is hoped even more neighbors will attend next year, to savor the celebrated teriyaki tri-tip and blueberry raspberry dessert, or to help continue a tradition that will last for decades.