Best Weekly Block Party (1999)

Clematis by Night

To families, block parties are a way to commune with neighbors, to fight suburban isolation with lawn chairs and potluck picnics, basketballs and bicycles. To college students, parties are a way to commune with the opposite sex, to fight social ineptitude with couches and kegs, bongs and bongos. And to the City of West Palm Beach, Clematis by Night is a way to commune with citizens, to fight downtown deterioration with restaurant tastings and refreshments, live bands and local artisans. The crowd comes in waves, first children bopping around their parents' ankles as a musical group warms up on Centennial Square, then teenagers trying on twisted silver rings and embroidered backpacks, and finally seniors waltzing in the street outside the Clematis Street Theater. The fashionable set arrives still later, swarming around Sforza's sidewalk tables and air-kissing acquaintances, ears abuzz, at My Martini. They stay later, too, sealing Clematis by Night's status as the weekly social event and showcase for the city. Not only has the program spurred redevelopment of downtown since it began in 1995, but proceeds from alcohol sales help support local museums, civic organizations, homeless shelters, and perhaps most appropriately, neighborhood associations.


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