Here’s a story from our sister station in Chicago WBBM about a neighborhood there that took it upon themselves to clear things up after the recent blizzard.  Wow!

Doug McElvein


CHICAGO (CBS) – Amid all the finger-pointing and complaints about the City of Chicago’s response to cleaning up the Blizzard of 2011, there is one neighborhood that doesn’t want to hear any of it.

Why is my street not clear?!

What do you mean the city won’t plow my alley!?

Don’t take my parking space!

Don’t want to hear it.

 Blizzard 2011: Neighbors Clear Entire Block Before City ArrivesResidents of the 3800 Block of North Hamilton broke out their shovels and cleared their street on their own. (Credit: Kristen Beck) 

The folks on the 3800 block of North Hamilton showed the type of community spirit that restores one’s faith in, well, the goodness and can-do spirit of Chicagoans.

Sure, it may be a bit extreme, but it underscores the idea that while the city needs to provide services to help its residents, a small group of people can make a huge difference.

Armed with a couple of snow blowers and a lot of shovels, they cleared the snow off an entire city block.

The cars are clean and parked neatly on the curb. There’s hardly a flake to be found.

It all started around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. Eventually about 25 people dug in–and dug out. As the adults worked, the kids dove into the drifts, building igloos and tunnels. Neighbor Vicki McCall kept the work crew happy with cookies for everyone.

By 5 p.m., the street was clear.

Kristen Beck says such community spirit is not unusual on her block.

“The majority of the people on the block have lived there for over 25 years and everybody knows everybody,” Beck wrote in an e-mail.

 Blizzard 2011: Neighbors Clear Entire Block Before City ArrivesThe kids on North Hamilton use the snow piles for their own fun. (Credit: Pam Smith) 

Throughout the year, they hold garden walks, a Mardi Gras party, a holiday house hop and, of course, a summer block party.

“Everybody kept calling this our winter block party,” she said.

After they finished the street, they attacked the alleys, too. Everybody made sure the seniors on the block were OK.

Mercedes Prause said neighbors who weren’t physically able to help, treated everybody to bottles of wine and other treats.

Those kind gestures were totally not necessary, but graciously accepted, she said.

“We certainly have a special block,” she said. “We know everyone, we know the children, we know their pets.”

As the city worked diligently to clear two feet of snow off the main streets, they began moving to the side streets on Thursday. Throughout the day, passing cars stopped to marvel at the pristine block of Hamilton, since every other street was still impassable.

The city plows arrived on Hamilton around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night and must have been stunned at the scene.

Beck missed it, but imagines what they must have thought.

“We kept joking about the city workers and that when they do finally come with their plows, they’re going to be relieved and use our block as an excuse to take a 20 minute break,” Beck said.

John Dodge —

neighbors shoveling Blizzard 2011: Neighbors Clear Entire Block Before City ArrivesThe shovelin’ crew on North Hamilton. (Credit: Pam Smith) 


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