Browns Valley celebrates itself with block party

2013-09-14T20:48:00Z 2013-09-15T22:33:28Z Browns Valley celebrates itself with block partyKERANA TODOROV Napa Valley Register
September 14, 2013 8:48 pm  • 

Residents in Browns Valley celebrated their neighborhood Saturday with a barbecue and a block party.

They roasted a fresh pig and sweet sausage links. The families also brought meatballs, salads, and salmon and halibut, which one of the residents, Gaylan Stenger, caught this summer in Alaska.

“Everyone brings what they do best,” said resident Sharon Campbell, who went door to door to distribute invitations to neighbors along Vassar Drive, Harvard Lane, Karen Drive and Broadmoor Drive.

The neighbors organized their first block party in 2011 as a way to spend more time together.

“This is an extraordinary neighborhood where we take care of each other, where the children play in the streets safely, where our cats play in the streets safely, where everyone looks after each other,” said Campbell, who raised two daughters and a grandson on Vassar Drive over the past 30 years.

“This is a safe, quiet, shady neighborhood with good neighbors, good company,” Campbell said as about 50 people chatted on Vassar Drive, which was blocked off to traffic for about a block. “And we like to watch the kids play.”

Her daughter Karmin bought the pig from Browns Valley Market. A neighbor, Chris Sanders, and friends Paul Stanley and Cliff Grigsby roasted it in a barbecue smoker they own.

The neighborhood has changed since it was built in the mid-1950s, with families moving out and others moving in, the residents said. There may be about 30 young children now. Families who stay have upgraded the ranch-style homes over the years.

“I’ve seen this street fill up with kids,” said Stenger, 74, a retired Caltrans superintendent, who has lived on Vassar Drive for three decades. “They go away. A new batch comes along,” Stenger said.

Christine Tomlinson, who grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and her husband, Joseph, have lived in their Vassar Drive home for more than nine years with their young family.

“You see kids playing all the time, back and forth, from Vassar to Harvard,” Tomlinson said. “It’s safe. It’s happy,” she said.

Longtime resident Carol Willis also feels safe where she lives with her family. “I just love the area, the neighborhood. I feel safe here,” said Willis, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1989. “I know if I need anything, there is somebody close by I can call.”

Robert Sordi, who grew up in Browns Valley, has a college-age daughter and an 8-year-old boy. The neighbors look out for each other, he said.

His next-door-neighbor Stenger gave him fish that he brought back from his trip to Alaska this summer. And every Thursday, Stenger puts the Sordis’ garbage cans back up their driveway while they’re at work. “He’s the best neighbor in the world,” said Sordi, 42, laughing. “It’s fantastic. I love it.”

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