Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One of Minneapolis's landmark events every year is the Basilica Block Party.  Started in 1995 as a fundraiser for the renovation of the iconic Catholic edifice known as The Basilica of St. Mary, it has grown to become one of the best events of the summer!

This year my wife and I were invited to the block party by Father Michael O'Connell, a long-time Catholic priest in Minneapolis, and  a former coworker who had a bit of an inside track on the tickets. They treated us like royalty, and it was a blast to meet so many wonderful Minnesotan's at this great event! And what a wonderful cause - raising money for the continuing renovation of the basilica.

In addition, a portion of all proceeds from The Basilica Block Party go to The Basilica’s St. Vincent de Paul outreach program, which provides services to those in need, including employment assistance, job training and workshops, transportation assistance and shoes. It’s partying, for a good cause!

Entering the grounds of the Basilica, one is immediately struck with some real paradoxes.  It's rock and roll mixed with religion.  It's beer mixed with architecture, it's fundraising mixed with loud music, it's the old established donors mixing with the new generation of volunteers.  And when you mix it all together, you end up with an amazing event, which brings the city together in a most unique way.  I just don't know of any other event which brings such a diverse group together for such a wonderful cause.  Congratulations to the organizers - you did it again!

The music was great - we heard several excellent bands throughout the evening.  And the food vendors reminded us that the MN state fair is just 5 weeks away, with the scent of fried dough, and grilled pork chops, mixed with just a hint of hops.  I was impressed at how well behaved the crowd was - It's definitely a family friendly event!

But for me, the real treat was the tour of the Basilica itself.  The building was completed in 1914 as the first Basilica in the United States.  The soaring arches, stained glass, statues and religious icons are breathtaking, and immediately bring ones thoughts heavenward.  While the architecture and art is stunning, it's the message of the building that stays with you after you leave.  This is holy ground.  I'm not Catholic, but I know what peace and grace feel like, and trust me that you'll feel it in the Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis.  If you are anywhere near downtown Minneapolis, take the time to stop in and experience this wonderful place!
It's great to live in a city which has such rich culture, history, and fosters a spirit of community with events like the Block Party!
And in 2014, circle your calendar for the second weekend in July - You'll find me at the Basilica Block Party!