Wheaton block party to mark its 50th anniversary

  • Preparing and sharing spit-roast pig has been one of the signature traditions of the Marion Court block party in Wheaton.

    Preparing and sharing spit-roast pig has been one of the signature traditions of the Marion Court block party in Wheaton. Courtesy of Dennis Boccard

  • Families line up their dogs for a race at a previous Marion Court block party in Wheaton.

    Families line up their dogs for a race at a previous Marion Court block party in Wheaton. Courtesy of Dennis Boccard

 
 
Updated 7/15/2021 7:04 PM

The residents of Marion Court in Wheaton are proud of their annual summer block party.

This weekend, neighbors living on the cul-de-sac are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the party and its long-standing tradition of preparing and sharing a spit-roast pig.

 

Yet, there is some disagreement on the exact year that the block party began. In 2009, the Daily Herald wrote that the block party had been going "for 40 years or so." Marion Court's own block party history prepared by resident Nancy Kirkwood places the first year of the pig spit roast as 1970.

"At that time, not all of the homes were built, so it could be that there is some question about whether the very first one was in 1970 or 1971," said block party organizer Dennis Boccard, adding that there was no official block party last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"In any case, we're celebrating the 50th this year," Boccard said.

To mark the special occasion, the three-day event includes an appearance by Wheaton Mayor Phil Suess and Councilman Scott Brown on Saturday evening, plus an appearance of a fire truck and police cruiser (pending no emergencies).

There are plenty of activities for kids on Saturday, including a bouncy castle, a dog race and a decorated bike parade. For adults, there's a BYOB wine tasting on Friday night and a white elephant game featuring wrapped gag gifts.

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"We're also going to have a poster with all of the houses on it, and a list of all the names of the people who have lived in the houses going back to the '70s," said Boccard, noting that the Marion Court block party has always had an open invitation for "alumni" neighbors to return and celebrate.

And since not everyone can eat pork, Boccard said the party also features a beef brisket and two legs of lamb. Vegetarians can choose from a wide array of side dishes prepared by neighbors.

"This is very much a community effort," said Boccard, who adds that the annual planning for the block party typically begins in May with a Cinco de Mayo party. "It all comes together on the day of the pig roast, which we call 'P-Day.'"

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