Owings Mills residents who are new to the area, or longtime community members looking to learn more about their neighborhood are invited to the Jewish Community Center, Sunday June 5, for the third annual Community Block Party bringing together businesses, nonprofits, artists and more for a free celebration of everything Owings Mills has to offer.

According to Paul Lurie, block party organizer, the event came about as a way to bring the organization's partners and members of the community together. As the inaugural block party was being planned, he said, it soon grew into a celebration of the entire Owings Mills community.

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"It's an amazing thing to watch the whole community gather and socialize in a safe, secure place," Lurie said. "There's a low barrier in that anyone can come. A lot of people don't know about all the things offered in our community."

To help businesses and organizations showcase what they can provide for the community, Lurie said they encourage participating groups to run activities highlighting what exactly it is they do. Groups like the Irvine Nature Center are hosting environmental games to emphasize their work, while other groups are sponsoring moon bounces and the like while handing out information to parents.

In its first year, about 4,000 Owings Mills residents came out to the block party, while last year the number grew to 5,000. Lurie said he hopes it will grow again this year. More than 60 community partners will be featured at the event, as well as more than 50 merchants at the block party's marketplace. New partners include Greenberg Gibbons, the organization behind the new Foundry Row development.

In addition to the community partnerships, the block party also features two stages of live entertainment. The Family Stage will feature a collection of dancers, beatboxers, karate demos and magicians, while the Main Stage features performers Sheldon Low, Cris Jacobs, the Mister Wilson Band and the Crawdaddies.

Crawdaddies co-founder Chris Huntington said the group is most at home at outdoor festivals, preferring these kinds of venues to bar performances. The group plays a mixture of rock, New Orleans-inspired jazz, funk, blues and reggae. The genre blend comes from the interests of each of the members.

"Over the years, we've evolved and taken on the influences of the individual musicians," Huntington said. "We do mostly originals. We pretty much are known as an upbeat group doing our own songs. We naturally let our influences take control in songwriting."

For those who like to shop, the Block Party's marketplace features more than 50 vendors, selling jewelry, art and more. The party will also feature food vendors selling everything from pizza to ice cream, barbecue to craft beers.

For the first time, parking will be available only at Stevenson University, with free shuttles offered to take people from their cars to the party and back. The hours have also been moved from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to better fit the schedules of families with young children, according to Lurie.

"I hope people take away two things when they go home," Lurie said. "One, that was a fun day. The kids had fun. The parents had fun. Everyone had a good time. Two, I want people to learn about a lot of the opportunities that are out there. I want people to take advantage of our great community we've got."

410-857-7890

Twitter.com/Jacob_deNobel

If You Go

What: Community Block Party

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When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, June 5

Where: Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC, 3506 Gwynnbrook Ave., Owings Mills

Cost: Free

For more information: Visit www.jcc.org or call 410-559-3546

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