A Rockin’ Block Party
Celebrating Rodney Street “Mayor” Charlie Carson with the Community
Saturday, May 1, 2021
Reflections from our resident design collective —Amanda Reese, Ashley Moon, and Elena Johnson
The day had finally come, we arrived a few hours early to begin setting up our area. It was exciting to find that some local artists had created some fun and funky chalk art pieces where we had left buckets of chalk the day before.
The first metal band, AxN Ass, hauled speakers up to the roof from the laundromat’s metal side awning. Watching the feat was quite the spectacle. Once their show began, you could hear the lead singer’s screams down the gulch and beyond. Their performance was jarringly raw and incredibly entertaining, a fitting spectacle for Rodney Street. The cherry on top was the ferociously loud rally car parked alongside the stage to complete the scene.
We set up a pallet parklet to provide an opportunity for rest and conversation among attendees. The do-it-yourself parklet was filled with beautiful planters and clematis, serving as an oasis in the surrounding asphalt and cement. The experience provided a great opportunity to reimagine public spaces traditionally used for vehicles into spaces for people to inhabit and enjoy. The use of pallets demonstrated possibilities for transforming spaces using everyday material with accessible construction. The parklet began conversations with community members from all walks of life about the possibilities for public space on Rodney. We look forward to continuing to imagine and build together.
Flow toys like hula hoops, juggling scarves, poi balls were brought out for everyone to enjoy. The equipment was happy to be used and by children of all ages to play, learn, dance, and explore together. The spectacle of children running around with wild abandon delighted many.
We collected wishes, planted seeds, met neighbors, and made new friends through conversation. It’s so exciting to treasure this place for many special reasons.
After almost a year of social distancing and no large gatherings, it felt like a switch had been turned back on. A community that had been sleepily waiting was brought back to life. It was hard not to gaze in amazement overseeing such a diverse group of people for the first time in a long while. One of the many things that makes this place unique is that Rodney is truly a neighborhood for everyone. There were bikers, bar crowds, Bullock, and babies. Missionaries, musicians, dancers, dogs, and hamsters—the party buzzed with life.
The beer supply endlessly flowed, and the good times kept on rocking. The B&B Market, owned by Charlie Carson, has been our hot spot for the best beer selection in town, and the diversity was nearly matched in the beverages provided to everyone. The washers and dryers continued to hum within the laundromat while the band rocked the building from above and beside. The Grateful Bread had a special evening menu for the festivities, complete with pizza! (The Carson was our personal favorite, so tasty!) Jesters was full of activity and provided some patrons a respite from the weather. You could smell the delicious scents of the food trucks between gusts of wind, and the noise of the party filled the air.
After the metal band, Dubby Dave played some party tunes and the fabulous local dancing group, Random Acts of Dance (RAD) entertained the crowd with their fun and zealous routines. The Helena Blues project followed with catchy tunes that we all know and love that got everyone dancing. The typical Montana spring day brought a mix of hot sun and cold clouds, with bursts of wind from Rodney Ridge. A quick rain shower cooled things off before a beautiful sunset finished off the long and rewarding day.
It was so special to see how integral and important Charlie is to the neighborhood, and how he cares so deeply about this place. Congratulations to 30 years on Rodney Street! We are grateful to Charlie Carson and his team for all they’ve done and will continue to do on Rodney Street.
All donations were raised to support the Pad for Paws Foundation. In total, they raised over $5,800 to help assist our area’s most vulnerable residents—senior citizens, those with service animals, physically and mentally challenged people, and veterans—pet owners who are struggling to feed both themselves and their beloved family pets.