By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Amesbury Days kicks off tonight with the Chamber of Commerce’s 15th Annual Block Party, and guests are encouraged to show up in tropical garb to celebrate this year’s Hawaiian Luau theme.
The annual fundraising event will run from 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Main Street by the library, and guests will be able to enjoy food and drinks from a variety of local establishments, live steel drum music and a professional hula dance performance.
“Find those seldom-worn Hawaiian shirts and that old grass skirt in the back of your closet and join us,” said Melissa Lachance, director of the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, in a press release for the event.
As guests arrive, all will be treated with a complimentary lei and map, and food tickets will be available for purchase from the dozens of businesses that will have offerings prepared for the event.
Among those who will be providing food are the Barking Dog/Ale House, which will be serving roasted pork sliders from a whole roasted pig; Crave Brasserie, which will be serving Hawaiian tuna tartar on wonton with avocado, tobiko and sweet soy; and Phat Cat’s Bistro, which will be serving huli huli chicken sandwiches on Hawaiian sweet buns with mango chutney.
Guests will also have the unique opportunity to soak city councilors in a dunk tank. Most of the councilors will be taking a seat in a dunk tank at one point during the evening, giving ball throwers a chance to dunk them and win a button that says ‘I dunked a City Councilor.’
For the kids, there will be facepainting, games, pony rides and balloon animal stations set up around the party. Then, at 6:45 p.m., a portion of Main Street will be closed for a short performance by the Rap ‘N Tap School of dance.
Once that is done, Lachance will give some brief remarks before introducing Polynesian Fusion, a professional hula and fire dancing troop that will perform for roughly 45 minutes.
Since its inception 15 years ago, the Block Party has become one of the city’s most popular annual events and frequently brings hundreds of residents into the downtown area. The event also serves as the kickoff to Amesbury Days, which will run through Sunday before wrapping up with the annual Fourth of July fireworks display next week.
All proceeds raised at the Block Party will be put toward the beautification of Amesbury, Lachance said, covering things ranging from the downtown area’s hanging flower baskets in the summer to the kissing balls in the winter. She added that the event can only succeed thanks to the support of donations from the community, and that participating individuals and businesses contribute most of the food, drink and fun that comprises the event.
“We are extremely grateful to all of our sponsors,” she said. “Without their support, there would be no Block Party.”