Of course 4th of July Los Altos Bike Parades are not a new concept but judging from the turn-out for our first ever Whaley Park Parade, these type of small neighborhood events are on the upswing. It is my belief that the overwhelming response to a few front yard handmade signs is a sign of times.
Like many of Southern California neighborhoods the Los Altos area of Long Beach was built up quickly to house the thousands of returning military personnel after World War II. The number of children born and raised in these neighborhoods was, well, impressive. A woman who grew up on the 2000 block of Carfax Avenue, which is a short block in Los Altos with only 25 houses, told me there were a total of 54 children on that block alone back in the 50s and 60s. I am not sure of the exact number of children on that same block today but it certainly is much less than 54, but interestingly more than just 20 years ago.
There has been a noticeable shift in demographics within our east Long Beach neighborhoods. When I moved into my Los Altos home in 1990 I was one of the few families with children on the block. Today the neighborhoods are once again becoming filled with young children and babies. Original owners and owners who bought in the 60s and 70s have made way for this younger generation in the past few years.
Strong neighborhood associations and well-attended neighborhood events seem to be popping up everywhere. Check out the good work Los Altos Village Neighbors, SoCo Neighbors, Hamilton Neighborhood Assoc and Wrigley Neighborhood Group are doing on Facebook. Last year the Los Altos Charitable Gift Giving Fund brought back an event from the 50s that they are calling the Lighting of the Letters. The attendance turn-out was excellent for a 'first-ever-in-a-long-time' event and they expect this year's event on Sunday, December 3 to be ever greater.
Perhaps another reason neighborhood events and front yard parties have grown in popularity is it removes the need to get into a car. Avoiding driving anywhere on a weekend or holiday is very attractive to anyone who lives in southern California. Another reason for this growing sense of community connection may be because it improves the neighborhood and quality of life. Young families have paid dearly to live in our Long Beach neighborhoods and they want a safe, comfortable environment for the children. What better way to feel safe than to know your neighbors on a personal level.
If you live in Long Beach and would like to strength your neighborhood connections a perfect place to start is by participating in one of the We Love Long Beach's Neighborhood Events. I hosted the Pumpkin Craving Potluck for my block last year and it was so much fun I can't wait to do it again!
Long Beach is an interesting and highly desirable place to live. We have population of nearly 500,000 within 50 sq miles with roughly 50 distinct neighborhoods which are all wonderful in their own special way. It is the people living in these neighborhoods who are making the effort to connect and remind us what it is we exactly do Love about Long Beach - it is the wonderful people silly!
By Michele K, Real Estate Expert and Neighborhood Enthusiast