How does West Philly celebrate Father’s Day? With a 1,000-person block party

Organizers want to help change the narrative of Black fatherhood.

A father and daughter at last year's Father's Day Block Party in West Philly.

A father and daughter at last year's Father's Day Block Party in West Philly.

Courtesy Larissa Mogano
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Updated 11:50 a.m.

West Philly likes block parties. A lot. Two years ago, it ranked first for the Philadelphia neighborhood with the most block parties in the entire city.

So naturally, warm weather holidays often mean more of the same: outdoor fun featuring barbecues, bouncy castles, the closing of streets and re-routing of SEPTA buses. Does Father’s Day count? You know it. On one West Philadelphia block, Father’s Day is about to get intense.

On Saturday, 60th and Haverford will host the second annual West Philly Father’s Day Block Party.

Run by the Community Solutions CDC, this jam is gonna be big. Free and open to the public, it will boast all the traditional block party attributes — moon bounce, water ice, grilled food, live music (courtesy of DJ NoPhrillz and Samad Dawson) — plus some less typical stuff, like free haircuts.

Yup, that’s a thing, thanks to ESPM Hair Zone — which will be one of the recipients of a new feature this year: the Agent of Change awards.

The moon bounce at last year's event

The moon bounce at last year's event

Courtesy Larissa Mogano

The honor will be given to recognize people who’ve positively impacted the local community, said block party organizer Kinji Ridley. In addition to the ESPM, this year’s recipients will include state rep Morgan Cephas; NyKisha Madison Keita of Urban Tree Connection Neighborhood Farms; and five West Philly neighbors, including a man named Enoch who helps run the local Shepard Recreation Center and weekly food giveaways in the neighborhood.

“They’re for individuals and organizations that are making significant change in and around our community,” Ridley said.

Last year, during the block party’s first iteration, it attracted between 500 and 750 attendees, per Ridley. And that was with on-and-off rain the entire day.

This year, he’s hoping for sun, and at least 1,000 neighbors in attendance.

The food table, stocked with fruits and veggies

The food table, stocked with fruits and veggies

Courtesy Larissa Mogano

Monica Allison came out last summer, and she had a blast — it was an opportunity for her to celebrate with the community and remember her father, she said, who passed away years ago. She’ll be there again this Saturday.

“It gives fathers an opportunity to spend some time with their kids, milling around in their area where they feel safe,” said Allison, whose granddaughter lives right there at 60th and Haverford. “It actually just brings people together.”

For Ridley, the event is more than just a party. It’s a chance to change the narrative of Black fatherhood.

The 2017 Father's Day Block Party in West Philly

At last year's Father's Day Block Party, there was a pickup basketball game among neighborhood kids.

Courtesy Larissa Mogano

“A lot of time, African American fathers get a bad rap,” Ridley said, but that’s not the full story. In his neighborhood, he said, he knows tons of fathers who are there for their children every day. “That’s why I chose that weekend, being a father myself.”

Ridley’s kids will attend the block party too — his 8-year-old and his 5-year-old will swing by after their Saturday morning dance classes.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It’s just a great celebration weekend, a chance for the men and the community in general.”

Ridley added: “We want this to become a staple in the community that people expect.”