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Howdy neighbor!

New Richmond neighborhoods are ready to party.

Families and individuals across New Richmond will gather Saturday at several dozen block parties in the community.

The parties come on the heels of Mayor David Schnitzler's proclamation designating May 13 as "Get to know your neighbor" Day. The block party idea has been in the planning stages for about a year, with members of the YOUth & Families Initiative taking the lead.

About 26 parties have been planned by organizers in the city's neighborhoods and in outlying rural areas.

"That's about 15 more than we anticipated," New Richmond Community Education director Cheryl Emerson said. "We were hoping for about 10 parties in our first year."

Some of the parties have been planned as potlucks, while others center around such activities as bonfires, kickball games or dessert.

Lori Stai and her organizers went against suggestions to keep their block party small and manageable. They are planning a neighborhood parade and a joint ice cream social with other block parties.

"We're not going to do anything small," she said with a laugh. "We're going to start big and go for the gusto."

The individual gatherings got an initial boost by receiving a free party starter kit, thanks to a donation from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Members of the Miss Heritage royal court plan to make the rounds to some of the parties.

Some block parties will be held on city streets, thanks to New Richmond City Council approval to block off some roadways to facilitate the activities. Other parties will be held in someone's yard, home or garage.

Parties are being held at varying times. Some start as early as 11 a.m. while others go through the entire evening. To find out more about the party in your area, contact the organizers listed or call the NRCE office at 243-7423.

"Planning has been going very well," said Bridget Anderson-Kling, Healthy Youth/Health Community coordinator for the New Richmond School District. "We are very excited about the response. What a great opportunity to meet new people, revisit old friendships and support both young and old in our community."

Gretchen Bell, director of the YOUth & Families Initiative, one goal is for young people and older residents to get to know each other.

"Ultimately it will help promote healthy and safer and more supportive neighborhoods," she said. "We're hoping it expands even more next year, to include even bigger groups and more block parties."

The following is a partial list of block parties planned, along with contact information:

• 1-6 p.m. -- John Meisner, 651 Parkview Drive. 246-6795.

• 1-6 p.m. -- Lori Stai, 1397 Valley Creek Drive. 246-2738.

• 6:30 p.m. -- Keith Studemann, 1237 Island View Drive. 246-0749.

• 5-8 p.m. -- Gwen Hop, 211 North Starr. 246-6183.

• 2 p.m. -- Shawn Warner, northside of County Road C. 248-3362.

• 11 a.m. -- Julie Rodriguez, 353 Fox Way. 246-2980.

• 5 p.m. -- Bridget Anderson-Kling, 507 West 1st Street. 246-7766.

• 4-7 p.m. -- Sharon Beebe, 250 East 6th Street. 246-2406.

• 1-6 p.m. -- Patti Kuenzie, 1314 Willow Avenue. 246-0811.

• 1-3 p.m. -- Peggy Eller, 1446 176th Avenue. 246-6864.

• 3:30 p.m. -- Liz Sund, 919 172nd Avenue. 246-2758.

• 3 p.m. -- Dick and Arlene O'Connell, 1403 County Road GG. 246-5532.

• Evening -- Larry and Mandi Erickson, 536 Laurel Drive. 246-6031.

• 5 p.m. -- Immaculate Conception Church, Mari Zarcone-Patterson, 257 Washington Ave.

• 5-7 p.m. -- Jenny Arnell, 533 East 2nd Street. 246-0468.

• 6 p.m. -- Gretchen Bell, 1208 West 4th Street. 246-4668.

For information about other parties not listed, contact 243-7421. Some unregistered neighborhood parties are even being held Friday night, according to rumors.

"I think it's going to be a great day," Emerson said. "The people who have gotten their kits have all been excited about their parties."