Segundo Barrio taking community pride to the streets with expanded block party plans

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EL PASO – There’s a big block party taking shape in Segundo Barrio to bring El Paso to the city’s founding neighborhood in September to celebrate local culture and life, enjoy community, good food, music and dancing in the street.

The South Side Neighborhood Association in the Segundo Barrio is busy organizing a block party for their neighbors and many others across the city. They say the massive celebration is for the community to come together, and to give the rest of El Paso insight into their neighborhood.This is the second year for the festivities. Last year, the neighborhood association, which has more than 40 members, hosted approximately 400 people. This time, the crowd is expected to double and the site has been extended from one block to two.

“Red” Romo, a member of the association, said that he hoped the block party would show people the Segundo Barrio isn’t as dangerous as it used to be. “We had too many gangs here going on, now slowly, little by little, we got rid of the gangs and it’s better now,” Romo said.

Members of the association agree. They all talked about how much the area had changed, and how it was safer than before.

“A lot of people say there was the worst danger here, years ago. Some people were afraid but not anymore,” said Vicente Solis, another member of the association.

The neighborhood association says the children who live in the area don’t have much and events like this help.

“We had a lot of satisfaction because when we were growing up, we didn’t have a lot of functions here in the barrio,” Romo said. “We decided to start doing something like that and it’s been coming out fine.”

Another thing that keeps them going is their commitment to the area and their love for the Segundo Barrio, which they call their home.

“No one wants to leave the barrio. We love the barrio and we’ll die here,” Romo said.

Luz Andujo, a member of the association who has lived in the area for 38 years, said that while the area was dangerous once, she believes it is now a safe place that is perceived in a negative light. “It doesn’t matter where you live and how you’re raised. It’s the way people see it and the way they take it,” said Andujo.

The members of the association come together to plan for the block party, which features food, games and music; each doing their own part to make it a success.

Pablo Lopez, a member of the organization, said that every member puts effort into their work and they do face difficulties sometimes.

“People don’t understand the paperwork, talking to people; it can be strenuous work, but at the end of the day it feels good when you see them dancing in the street, and then you know it paid off,” said Lopez.

The association relies on donations from the community to put together the event that draws current and former barrio residents.

“We have people coming from Oklahoma, Arizona, Los Angeles, Colorado, San Antonio, and Dallas just to attend the block party,” Romo said.

Members say the block party helps the public see that the Segundo Barrio isn’t the same as it used to be. The association is satisfied with their efforts and how they have gotten people to come back to the area and enjoy themselves.

Lopez says that there is nothing they hope to gain from the event except for the community to have more unity and for the public to have a better understanding of the area.

The block party is scheduled for September 6, 2015, from 6 p.m. to midnight at the corner of Park and Fourth Street.

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