IHC block party finds success, community support

Connor Guy

Hannah Joseph, '12, tells the fortune of French House RA Carol Schaffer, '10, at the Community Service House's booth. Other activites at the block party included an inflatable slide, a dunk tank and a lemonade stand. Credit: Hubanks
Hannah Joseph, '12, tells the fortune of French House RA Carol Schaffer, '10, at the Community Service House's booth. Other activites at the block party included an inflatable slide, a dunk tank and a lemonade stand. Credit: Hubanks

A dunk tank. Cotton candy. Acoustic music. Slip ‘n’ Slide. All are things that you might reasonably find on a college campus any given day in mid September. But these aren’t usually things you’d see in the middle of the street. This past Saturday, the Whitman Interest House Community (IHC) shut down a section of Otis Street, bringing all of these things and more to the pavement as part of its annual Block Party.

Though many consider it general knowledge, and the Admissions office regularly shows off the IHC during its campus tours, new students may not be familiar with it. The IHC a collection of 11 houses that the College owns or rents. It provides an alternative housing option for upperclassmen, though it is mostly inhabited by sophomores because juniors and seniors often opt to live off campus.

Credit: Hubanks
Credit: Hubanks

“We do the Block Party for a variety of reasons,” said IHC Residence Director Patrick Herman. “But one of the main ones is that we’re trying to give first years a chance to explore the IHC. Another is just to put on a fun event both for the campus and the community.” Publicity events like the block party are key for the IHC in building a working relationship with neighbors, both students and otherwise.

To this effect, IHC staff distributed letters to nearby houses, explaining the event, and inviting anyone interested to come. “We made a special effort this year, to involve the Walla Walla community,” said Stazh Zamkinos, RA of the Fine Arts House. “For example, we had the children of the woman who runs the Walla Walla Bread Company come. They run a lemonade stand every week at the farmers market, so we invited them to come and run their stand at the block party.”

The letter also asked neighbors to direct any concerns or complaints to Herman. “This year was no problem at all, and normally, it’s totally fine,” he said. “One minor concern is that Walla Walla has a 24-hour quiet hour ordinance, concerning amplified noise. That wasn’t an issue this time around because we chose to go with acoustic music, but in the past they’ve had bigger bands with full amp set-ups. Typically, it’s not an issue on Saturday afternoons, but there have been times in the past when there have been concerns and complaints.”

T-Tones vocalist Mark Arend, '12, leads the group in an a cappella performance. Due to a Walla Walla city ordinance, no amplified music was performed. Credit: Hubanks
T-Tones vocalist Mark Arend, '12, leads the group in an a cappella performance. Due to a Walla Walla city ordinance, no amplified music was performed. Credit: Hubanks

As far as fostering community with the rest of campus and non-Whitman people, Herman and his staff are satisfied with their work. “I think we were fairly successful in bringing in community members, especially with Boyer being such a main thoroughfare,” he said. “I think we had a lot of walk-in traffic with people going for Saturday morning walks… I definitely had some people come up and ask what was going on as we were setting up, and then saw them come back later.”

The only disappointment Zamkinos can think of is that they weren’t able to get George Bridges in the dunk tank. “We usually get him to do it, but he was out of town this time,” she said.