Condo Crawlin’

Here’s a puzzler: You’ve lucked out with some pretty great neighbors and you want to figure out a way to get them all in the same place at the same time to share some food, drinks, and conversation. The problem lies in the fact that since we all share the same tiny floorplan, there was no real way for any one place to host the whole crew comfortably for any extended amount of time. That’s when it dawned on us; we host a pub-crawl/old-timey progressive dinner hybrid gathering in which everyone shares hosting duties for about a half hour. Behold! The first annual YBH building Condo Crawl is born! Kim and I, along with our great new neighbor Chris, hatched the idea over a couple of cold ones out on the porch a while back. A quick association-wide email later and the time slots started filling up. Kim and Chris collaborated on a schedule/invite card and the rest is history. Here’s a photographic voyage of how it all went down, starting with yours truly. Seeing that summer was finally upon us, mojitos and southwestern roll-ups were on order in the YBH.

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The drinks were a big hit and everyone seemed to like the appetizers, but before we knew it, the clock struck 6:30 and it was off to the next stop where we were greeted with an Italian theme. Peroni, red wine and home made bruschetta were on order. Along with great food and drink, we were welcomed by two fantastic cats with the same lion-shaped haircut. Meet Putin:

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After another quick half hour, we moved back to the unit below us, where we were greeted with home-made sangria, ice cold beers, and some amazing little appetizers made of spiced lamb and veggies – holy yum, by the way.

Next up came the bike shop. That’s right. I said bike shop. Our building houses two retail units on the main street. One is a dentist, the other is Smart Bike Parts, which is pretty much the coolest shop in Chicago (with a pretty killer online store). I can walk through their back door without leaving our back gate. I have a bit of a bicycle obsession, so this is the greatest thing ever. Once inside the shop, a Thai noodle appetizer and freshly blended banana pina coladas were there to cool us off and liven us up.

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I hope everyone is starting to pick up on the fact that at this point, a different adult beverage at each stop on the crawl, every half hour is beginning to make for a very enjoyable evening. Around this time, the order of things gets a little jumbled, but I can tell you that I did a shot of tequila from half of a hollowed-out lime shortly thereafter, followed by everything from wine to the finest of microbrews. And how could I forget the cake? We also utilized the occasion to congratulate our awesome next-door neighbor, Fredi, who had recently been accepted to the Chicago Fire Department. The program is nearly impossible to get into, so a fire truck-shaped cake was presented, and promptly devoured by the crawlers.

Chris, our organizing partner in crime, and his wife Angela decked out their custom chalkboard wall to greet the eager crawlers. What a simple and unique place to jot your “honey do” notes, get down with your creative side, or in this case, welcome a crew of thirsty house guests. (Score a quart of this paint at any local hardware store).

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After all eight units had given us the grand tour and one too many beverages to boot, it was only around 10pm. What to do next but move upstairs to the 3 largest adjoining decks and keep the party going?

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All said and done, the crawl was a huge success. We all had a blast, and we’re already hatching plans for the next one. Which leads me to wonder…what have you all done to get to know your neighbors (and catch a glimpse of the inside of their place at the same time)? Tried and true backyard BBQ? Block party? Square dance? Or are your neighbors so intolerable that the thought of spending a Saturday night with them sends you into fits of rage? We’d love to hear your stories… and possibly even steal your ideas for the 2nd crawl. I’m thirsty already.

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  • hails - August 31, 2009 - 8:54 AM

    now that half of the building is rented out to annoying, loud college kids, I’m gonna go with “no I don’t want to see my neighbors, thank you”ReplyCancel

  • Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog - August 31, 2009 - 9:24 AM

    The best thing I’ve ever done to get to know my neighbors was the classic door to door Christmas cookie delivery. Okay, so some of them simply grabbed the cookies, shut the door, and never talked to me again… but I lucked out and found some other neighbors that I had a lot in common with and now we’re great friends.
    It seems like my new place has a mix of elderly and young people. I would love to see my 75 year old neighbor participate in the pub crawl!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - August 31, 2009 - 9:29 AM

      Kasey, I love the Christmas cookie idea! I’m a big fan of the holidays, so maybe my neighbors will get a little treat this year. Thanks for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon Hillenmyer - September 1, 2009 - 4:01 PM

    Fun ya’ll! Love the crawl ideas… never done anything like this in our sleepy neighborhood of kiddos and strollers, but I bet our neighbors would be game…you have me brainstorming!ReplyCancel

    • Scott - September 6, 2009 - 3:34 PM

      Thanks Shannon! Keep us posted when you make it happen!ReplyCancel

  • Dave - September 15, 2009 - 6:04 PM

    Scott,
    We are going to try somethng like this in your old neighborhood. For those that don’t know, we have about fifty houses in the subdivision in Cincinnati,Oh. We all know each other. Our neighbor recently won an ice cream party sponsored by Edy’s Ice Cream. She wrote an essay on why she loves our neighborhood. As you can see, we have a pretty close group of neighbors. When there is a family tragedy, forget about cooking meals until you call off the dogs. If you don’t, meals will come for weeks.
    Recently, we have had several young families move in. Many of the older folks have moved on to smaller housing units. In an effort to meet and greet the younger crew, we plan to take your idea to a larger scale.
    Our intentions are to have a group of families, at about five homes, host the progressive cocktail hour. We plan to do this after the Holidays when the Winter doldrums set in. Thanks for the idea! Keep up the good work. We love the blog.
    DaveReplyCancel

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