By Chris Heady
Two plastic flamingos changed the quiet cul-de-sac at 73rd and Windsor to the place to be on Friday summer nights.
For four years the Prairie Village neighborhood has been home to Flamingo Fridays, a weekly block party that brings together the surrounding blocks for what they call, a “flocking good time.”
Close to 50 people a week that live in the neighborhood, fill the cul-de-sac with lawn games, tailgate food, and mixed drinks. It’s a rare sight in an age where many don’t talk to their neighbors.
Kelly Switzer started the parties after moving to the neighborhood five years ago with her husband Adam. Switzer was pregnant and wanted to get to know the neighbors surrounding them. So she printed out hundreds of flyers and walked five blocks around her house, inviting anyone to her house for a get-to-know-you tailgate. She stuck two plastic flamingos in her yard designating her house as the scene of the party, and was hopeful a few families would come.
The next friday, more than 50 people showed up.
“We were totally shocked,” Switzer said, who now has a 4 year old and a 15 month old. “It was a total hit.”
Over the course of some weeks, a system emerged for the neighborhood. Whoever has a pink flamingo in their yard will host a driveway, outside get-together for the block. Hosts supply meat to grill, neighbors supply sides and drinks.
“It took off like wildfire,” Switzer said. “The kids eat way too much sugar and run around and the adults sit in lawn chairs bring sides. It was a great time and then it took off from there.”
The parties have ranged from a Friday night with air-conditioning and Hor d’oeuvres to beer and burgers on the lawn. Switzer prefers the latter, saying the more casual setting bodes well for more attendants.
A core of eight families in the cul-de-sac participate in the weekly or bi-weekly party, inviting anyone in the Prairie Village area to join and encouraging families to bring their kids and a side of chips. The get-togethers have even grown to weekly “ladies nights” for women in the neighborhood.
According to Switzer, families from all generations have grown to become great friends because of it.
“Prairie Village is in a transition, with new owners and new families moving in to where we have original owners that live in the neighborhood,” Switzer said. “There’s a real disconnect and these Flamingo Fridays make it so everyone can meet and know each other.”
Parties go from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, sometimes longer. And according to Switzer, the craze is spreading, with two other neighborhoods she’s heard of doing the same thing.