Thousands turn out for 11th annual block party hosted by GW, neighbors

This post was written by Hatchet reporter Brandon Lee

A crowd of nearly 3,000 stopped by the annual neighborhood block party at the Eye Street Mall on Sunday.

The 11th annual event, hosted by the community group FRIENDS, drew more than 100 student and local organizations to the park by the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

“This event really solidifies the fact that we’re all one community,” Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said. “I think for students, this shows them what’s outside the GW bubble: commerce, entertainment and great neighbors.”

Whole Foods Market served hotdogs while members of Campaign GW handed out free giveaways. The GW Vibes and GW Sirens gave performances, as well as Vignette & Sobin, a French horn and guitar-wielding duo.

Volunteers from the School of Medicine and Health Services’ physician assistant program offered blood pressure tests, promoting “awareness about health living,” the group’s community service chair Jennifer Tran said.

The block party also attracted THON, a Pennsylvania State University group that raises funds for children suffering from cancer. Mehreen Khan, a sophomore at Penn State and Virginia native, brought members of the organization to Foggy Bottom to spread their message in D.C.

“I wanted to give my friends a piece of the D.C. lifestyle while also optimizing our impact here,” Khan said.

Jennifer Kinniff, a librarian who works in GW’s special collections research center, talked to passerby about the history of Foggy Bottom and the University’s role in shaping it.

“We think our collections are of interest to both neighbors and students,” Kinniff said. “We really want people to learn about the history of our neighborhood.”

Flanked by The Avenue and the skeleton of the Science and Engineering Hall, the party aimed to highlight an improving relationship between the University and locals.

Neighbors have said they have noticed a shift in their relations with GW from past years, when residents used to clash with administrators over noise from construction of academic buildings.

GW, which helped to host the event Sunday, launched a new neighborhood website this fall, one of the many efforts the University has made to show it is tuned in to residents’ concerns.

Complaints over late-night parties and trash also pushed the University to crack down on off-campus student residences this summer, but the administration largely rolled backed its plans after intense lobbying from student leaders.

The University did keep some new measures in place, including an online complaint form for neighbors and mandatory “good neighbor” tutorials for undergraduates.

Council members Jack Evans and Muriel Bowser, who are competing against each other in the Democratic mayoral primary this April, both made an appearance at the block party.

FRIENDS plans to host its annual Spring BBQ, serving food grilled by D.C. Council members, in May.

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