Thousands flock to fifth FRIENDS block party

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GW Hatchet Video: Block Party

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Members of the GW and Foggy Bottom communities came together Sunday to celebrate the fifth annual FRIENDS block party. Over 3,000 people attended the event aimed at creating a cohesive community despite tense moments.

Thousands of Foggy Bottom residents and GW community members came out for the fifth FRIENDS block party this past weekend to eat local food, meet the neighbors and enjoy live music.

The afternoon event, which also marked the end of Colonials Weekend, was held in the park next to the Foggy Bottom Metro station. About 110 groups set up tables in the area – some gave out food from local restaurants and information about local organizations.

D.C. council members, local merchants, churches and student advocacy groups all had display tables.

University President Steven Knapp was present for most of the afternoon. After stopping at each table, he made a few remarks to the crowd of students, neighbors, alumni and parents.

“We’re going to be very much a part of this community,” Knapp said. “I hope to get to know as many of you as possible face to face.”

Councilmember Jack Evans was on hand to speak with constituents, some of them disturbed by the possible sale of property by Washington Circle. Evans also made a short speech following Knapp’s remarks.

“(The block party) brings together all the different area of Foggy Bottom and the University, it’s a nice event,” Evans said.

Live music, including the GW Jazz Band, Forbidden Planet Productions and the Miller Band, were crowd favorites. The GW cast of “Hair” also performed several songs, part of the block party’s most diverse musical lineup in its five-year history.

Michael Levick, a balloon artist hired by the GW Medical Center and a regular at the event, said he enjoyed seeing more student musicians take the stage. “The music is splendid, I always love to hear the students,” he said.

Stephan Koch, who came with his family from Baltimore to do some sightseeing and go to Georgetown, enjoyed what the block party had to offer.

“It feels like it’s an outreach to the neighboring community,” said Koch, as his daughter, 9-year-old Svetlana Koch played with her newly made balloon animal.

EMeRG offered attendees free blood pressure and blood sugar tests. Marc Berenson, the coordinator for EMeRG, mentioned that most of the people he spoke with were not students, but interested neighbors.

“We’re out here to promote everyone’s community health,” Berenson said. “The majority of the people that we’re seeing are members of the Foggy Bottom community.”

Law School student Rita Sinha said she was glad to see student organizations reach beyond campus and speak to a larger audience.

“I think this is a great event. I was happy to see a lot of the student organizations out in Foggy Bottom,” she said.

Sinha, who is also Miss District of Columbia International 2007, was invited by the block party’s organizers to come and speak to attendees throughout the afternoon. Dressed in her sash and tiara from the national pageant, she said she enjoyed meeting many of the Foggy Bottom residents.

The organization that ran the event, FRIENDS, is backed by the University and made up of members of the community devoted to communication with GW. Knapp and volunteers emphasized the cooperation and mutual understanding that the block party brings to University relations with neighbors.

Donald Lincoln, a Watergate resident and member of FRIENDS for the past two years, described the benefit that the block party can bring.

“It’s an ideal opportunity for the students, and it can show that the community doesn’t hate them,” Lincoln said.

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