As a matter of course, one rarely flips burgers on the grill on a week night, but we are tonight. And not because the Astros are in a wild-card playoff game.

Tonight is America's 31st annual National Night Out commemoration and it's a big deal on our street in the Spring Branch area of town.

Given post-work constraints, there's not time enough to prepare elaborate fare and fancy décor. We keep it simple. We grill hamburgers and hot dogs and everyone brings a side dish or dessert, their own drinks and chairs to the cul-de-sac.

We nosh. We meet the new neighbors. We get caught up on a favorite subject - property values! - and discuss other issues of the neighborhood. Usually a law enforcement officer will drop by and, this being an election year, I fully expect a politician running for office will make the rounds, too.
All in all, the block party fills a need for us to connect with others in a way that feels social, not snoopy or invasive. After years of keeping our distance and minding our own business, it feels right to have our neighbors' back - and watch his house while he's gone.

Our success with National Night Out has prompted us to add a summertime pool party with these same folks. It reminds me of the era in which I grew up when everybody knew everybody on the block.

And tonight's shindig is growing. The next block doesn't have an organized event so we've invited those folks to join us. There's always plenty of food ... you know, fishes and loaves.
So, this being the first Tuesday in October, it's time to fire up the grill.

If your block doesn't have a gathering tonight, maybe you can be the one to organize next year's. Organizational help is available at pete radowick

Pete Radowick is the Brand Manager for Houston First Corp. He has resided in Houston since 1984 and has worked for Houston First and its predecessor organizations for 20 years. He is a former copy editor for the Houston Post.