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Remembering the Community Block Party


By Cookie Powell


IMG_4542The 20th Annual Dixon Community Block Party is NOT scheduled this month, this year, but since its beginning in 1995 I have many fond memories. I am sad we were not able to coordinate and provide the family-friendly event this year, but hopefully writing this re-cap of some of the highlights will make me feel better. I bet that many other people in Dixon also have memories of the Annual Dixon Community Block Party. Hundreds of people attended the events that spanned 19 years and was held every April. Maybe this little story will also make some of them smile.


photo (32)In what would have been this highly-favored, free community event’s 20th year Dixon Family Services made the announcement in January that we will not coordinate it this year. Although participation and satisfaction has always been high, the support for behind the scenes work and expenses dwindled to zero. After losing funds that had come from a multitude of sources for the first 15 years, DFS struggled to keep the annual day in the park going for several more years with a shoestring budget and a skeleton crew.


Block Party 2014, other photos 033In 1995 a group of concerned citizens formed a committee to fight Child Abuse in Dixon and we were called The Dixon Advocates for Children. We wanted to host an event that would generate attention to child abuse in the month of April because April is Child Abuse Awareness month. So just weeks after I was hired at Dixon Family Services I was assigned point person of our small Block Party committee. My co-chair that year was reporter Amy White of the Dixon Tribune.


Block Party boys dancingThe first year the event was held at Northwest Park and it was a very windy day. I remember that the Dixon Modelers Club brought their model airplanes and quickly had to pack up before their wooden masterpieces were torn to shreds.


DSC09479Jon Pardi was one of the young performers on the flat-bed truck stage provided by the Mistler Brothers that day. Even then, as an 11 year old boy, Jon rocked western boots and a big cowboy hat (that did not stay on with the wind) as he strummed his guitar and sang a country song. For those who don’t know Jon, he grew up in Dixon, followed his passion to sing country music and has become a hit country music star, living in Nashville for years now. He has come back home to perform at the May Fair and at Bud’s several times.


photo (32)Frenzaben, a local rock band was also there that first year. They were the last act for several years at the Block Party because their friends and fans liked to stay as long as they could while the band played rock hits from that era.   Back then we focused the first few hours of stage time on young children and families with young dancers, singers, karate and other forms of entertainment. Then in the afternoon we would switch to a teen theme with bands, fans of rock and there was even some dancing.


DL000356I remember one year we even held a skateboarding competition at the new skate park. Other local teen bands that I can recall include Period of Decline, Jesse’s Band and Kodine, a group that Jon Pardi had formed in his high school years. In later years there was the Rockn Angels.


July 2 2009 005With the wind causing such havoc that first year, we decided to move to Hall Park and the next nine years of Block Parties were all held there. We had one Block Party that had to be cancelled because of rain. All other party days have been beautiful sunny days, sometimes even downright hot on those 4th Saturdays of April.


DL000222It wasn’t until the family event was moved to the Women’s Improvement Park in 2006 that we felt like we had the perfect venue. Since then, every year we were protected from the glaring sun by the big old trees and from the wind by the nearby Dixon Library and other buildings. Being nestled in that smaller park made the day feel cozy and safe.


Celebrities such as McGruff the Crime Dog, Chipper the CHP Chipmunk and Crash Dummies Vince and Larry also were on scene at many of our Block Parties. And it wouldn’t have been the same without the jump houses that were bouncing all day long filled with happy hopping kids.


Block Party Karate KidsOver the years live entertainment by Ramtown Karate, Pride Gymnastics, Dixon Dance Studio, Dixon Music, Ballet Folklorico, Star Struck, Kids Can Music, ZUMBA and others have captivated the audience. One year we even had some belly dancers and another we had Aztec Dancers.


DSC09470The Dixon Police and Fire Departments were always on hand with their trucks, vehicles, canine officers, cadets, stickers and plenty of Jelly Bellies. Kids were introduced to law enforcement in a positive way.   They also got to climb on and in the fire trucks and pretend they were firefighters themselves.


DL000211The Solano County Sheriff’s Department has been a personal favorite of mine because not only did they bring their Mobile Command Unit, other vehicles and canine officers, but because they brought horses. Each year several of the Sheriff’s Posse members would load up after their performance in the Winters Youth Day Parade and come to Dixon for several hours of petting and visitation with Dixon’s young children and their parents at the Block Party, providing many Kodak moments. The 4-H and Happy Ranch petting zoos were also good for those precious photos of children with animals.


DSC05109Speaking of Kodak moments, from back when my granddaughter, Valerie, was just a baby she attended almost every Block Party. I started a tradition of taking her photo in the same spot on the fire truck every year. Finally last year she had something better to do than to hang out with Grandma at the Block Party. Fifteen years old now, I tried to make her feel guilty that the fire truck was heart-broken when she did not come. Needless to say, photos I took of Valerie were often attached to Block Party re-cap stories and press releases over the years.


Another memory is of the Boy Scouts raising the American Flag and their flag salute as an opening ceremony of the Block Party in the morning. Ken Mistler was the first of many Scout leaders who coordinated that through the years. Many Block Parties were also started with the Star Spangled Banner sung by awesome young Dixon singers.


Block Party 2014, other photos 013The day became a traditional place for parents to sign up for many fun activities to keep kids healthy and safe. Some of the numerous youth sports and other activities included Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, karate, dance and singing lessons, gymnastics, swim team, youth football and cheerleading. But the one organization that became synonymous with the Community Block Party is Dixon Soccer Club. From year one that group used the Block Party as the kick-off day for soccer sign-ups. That organization also cooked up some of the best tacos I ever ate.


Many other youth organizations served food and drinks in order to fundraise at the Block Parties. Other groups painted faces, spray painted hair, painted fingernails or provided games and crafts for the children. All organizations took advantage of the opportunity to provide information and materials about themselves.


Fingerprinting and photo identification of children was very popular for many years and was provided by the Dixon Police, Solano Sheriff’s Department and the Masons.


DL000224Dixon Family Services used the event and large crowd as an opportunity to talk about Child Abuse prevention each year. Beginning with Don Erickson years ago, we asked each Citizen of the Year to read the Blue Ribbon speech, addressing the actual number of reported child abuse and neglect cases in our town of Dixon. The Blue Ribbon Ceremony is a reminder of how it takes the entire community to help prevent and report child abuse. Blue ribbons representing the reported cases were tied on a fence at Hall Park and then after the move to the Women’s Improvement Park, they were tied on the park sign.


I am sure I have forgotten some, but thinking back I am so happy to remember working with Amy White, Shelton Yip, PJ Davis, Valerie Cook, Cathy Morris, Ken Mistler, Linda Winn, Angela Meisenheimer, Chuck Coates, Elaine and Ken Perry, Bruce Burr, Ben Romero, Annie Custis, Don Mort, Joe Perez, Luis Martinez, Dan Ayala, Cathy Alcocer, Rich Mason, Gloria Flores and Kathy Smith. I apologize to anyone I forgot. Nineteen years is a long time to think back on.


Oh, and I should also mention that each year we totally embarrassed all the talented artists that that were winners of our annual logo contests up on the stage at the Block Parties. Our Block Party theme was always the same as our logo contest and it was amazing that the winners varied from children as young as Kindergarteners to High School students. If you ever want to see the winning logos we have them all displayed at Dixon Family Services. All 19 of them are t-shirts hanging on our wall in clear plastic display cases.


Block Party Folkloric girls and boysI am sad, but I have many wonderful memories from the nineteen annual Block Parties. A lot of work and planning hours were spent and I was able to meet and work with some of Dixon’s best people. My fondest memories are of all the smiling children each year having a great time. I am very proud that we provided this event for free. Maybe one day we will again be able to coordinate a day in the park but for now I want to thank all of the people who helped and who participated in the Dixon Community Block Parties. In addition to my many fond memories, I also have many great photos and some of them can be viewed at DixonFamilyServices.org.


  1. I do feel a little better now after writing down some of my best memories.

Sincerely yours,

Cookie Powell




Comedy Night 2015


Comedy Night 2015




Tickets are now available. Get them before sold out.

 Download the Solicitation Letter

Dixon Family Services’ Summer Fun-raising Event, Comedy Night 2015, is all set for Saturday, July 25. Last July our event was a smashing hit with everyone who attended. This year is expected to be even bigger and better! Don’t regret missing the funniest night in Dixon. Get your tickets early before we sell out.


This year’s venue, recently renovated Olde Vet’s Hall, will add a level of comfort and elegance to the hot summer’s funniest night in Dixon. But don’t be mistaken, this is a casual affair. Wear something with elastic waist for a delicious tri-tip dinner, decadent desserts and hard belly laughs.


At this Comedy Night laughter will come from two well-known local comedians. The headliner will be Rick Read.

Comedy Night 2015 Rick ReadBIO:    Rick lives by the belief that if you can’t laugh at yourself, stare harder in the mirror. His high-energy humor will lead you on a highway of hilarity guaranteed to leave you laughing, as he serves up his views on everything from life with a child to the current state of the country. Adding visuals, voices and stories, you’re sure to have a side splitting time.

Credits: XM Radio, HBO’s The Night Shift and Comcast Comedy Spotlight

He has been an opening act with: Chubby Checker, Loretta Lynn, & Jay Leno


Comedy Night’s opening act is local funny man, Kevin Young.

Comedy Night 2015 Kevin YoungBio: When first seeing Kevin Young, he is often thought of as being very serious. But after witnessing his act, many agree the Sacramento comic is seriously funny. Young, who made his comedy breakthrough by taking part in the heralded San Francisco International Stand Up Comedy Competition in 2007, has quickly become a favorite in clubs throughout the west coast.


He was heard as a regular guest on KWOD radio in Sacramento, appeared in the Walt Disney

Film, “Flubber”, starring Robin Williams, and his improvisational abilities entertained a crowd at a Mystery Dinner Theatre. No matter the venue, Kevin is sure to entertain and ignite a crowd.

You can also count on laughing at our Dixon Police Chief Jon Cox as the event’s Emcee. Those who have never witnessed it before are in for a treat when you see how comical he can be.


Comedy Night has become a signature fundraising event for Dixon Family Services over several years. Dixon Family Services is a community-based, one-stop-shop of social services for Dixon’s residents who are in need of a variety of assistance programs. The Comedy Night event is an opportunity for all community members to come out and support the non-profit organization, while having a great time.


The evening begins at 6:00 with social time, no-host bar and a chance to see a large array of raffle prizes and to socialize. Then a tri-tip dinner, courtesy of Recology, will be served from 6:30-7:30. For dessert, homemade decadent desserts will be available in the Bake Sale and Auction. You are encouraged to bring along your checkbook in order to secure the dessert that makes your mouth water the most.

Then, at 8 “The Show” begins and heavy laughter is predicted.


Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Tickets are available to purchase at Dixon Family Services at 155 North Second Street, The Dixon Tribune at 145 East A Street, The Dixon Family Services Thrift Store at 1150 North First Street and Dixon Florist and Gifts at 150 East A Street.


Everyone is encouraged to get tickets early because there is a maximum capacity and tickets are already selling fast. There is also an option of purchasing an entire table so that you can know you’ll be where your table is and sit with your friends, family, co-workers or whomever you choose to have the tickets.


The DFS Board of Directors assures that this is one event you won’t want to miss.  The current DFS Board includes Jeanie Vanetti, Sarah Villec, Matt Swanson, Jack Caldwell, Cathy Alcocer and Jon Cox.


More support is needed by way of sponsorships, donations, baked goods and raffle prizes. For further information contact Cookie at DFS, 678-0442 or email cookie@dixonfamilyservices.org . You can also talk to any DFS Board Member. Each of them is very involved and invested in making Comedy Night 2015 a huge success. They also have tickets for purchase.