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'9th Street Crew' Embraces Manhattan Beach Walkstreet Lifestyle

Sep 18, 2021 11:18AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
The flat South End walkstreets of Manhattan Beach are quintessential family streets, with easy and safe places for kids to play and for families to congregate. Many walkstreet communities have their own traditions ranging from holiday light chains to annual block parties. 

That sense of togetherness is perhaps nowhere better epitomized than on 9th Street, where multiple generations of families continue to gather, play, and celebrate together - and more recently, commiserate together through the pandemic.

On Friday, families from up and down the street gathered for a group photograph, wearing brand-new baseball caps declaring themselves the "9th Street Crew."

"Our 9th Street is an amazing group of people," said longtime resident Hilary Mahan, who organized the printing of the baseball caps. "It is a strong network of support that really grew stronger during COVID. Our family has lived on the street since 2004 and it has always been a source of great joy. It has always had an incredible feeling of community togetherness."

There's a mixture of new and old on the street, ranging from a family who just moved in, to four different 9th Street "dads" who themselves grew up on the street.

And neighbors agree that even though the street has a mix of homeowners and renters, as well as a mingling of spectacular new homes and tiny older bungalows, there's no snobbery or differentiation in the 9th Street community.

"It's really unique," said Sue Harry, another longtime 9th Street resident. "Once you're on the street, you're in."

Traditions Continue Despite Pandemic

The 9th Street walkstreet (between Crest and Valley) has about 40 homes and currently between 40 and 50 kids (depending on whether you count college students who return home at different points throughout the year).

Families on 9th Street have created longstanding traditions including a 4th of July party, a chili cookoff, a holiday White Elephant gift exchange, and countless potlucks and spontaneous cocktail nights. Families have taken surf trips and camping trips together. And each year there's a "Back to School" event on the first day of school, with a group photo and bagels for kids and parents. 

For the first few weeks of the pandemic, everyone more or less hunkered down in their homes, said neighbor Shelley Theodore. But when one family's beloved dog died, the 9th Street community re-emerged to mourn the loss - and to begin congregating safely, outdoors, once again, she said.

That sense of togetherness helped almost everyone - especially the youngest residents of the street - get through the isolation of the pandemic, agreed the residents who gathered on Friday afternoon.

"It's really just an extension of our homes to be outside here on the street," said Harry. "It's pretty special and unique what we have here. We're more than just 'neighbors.'"

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