AVONDALE— Joanna Panek, 80, recalled the snow storm of 1967, when 23 inches of snow blanketed Chicago. Panek still remembers the "mounds of snow" making it difficult for residents to navigate the 3000 block of West George Street in Avondale.
After the storm, neighbors rallied together to help clear streets and alleys, even assisting food delivery trucks make deliveries to a Polish market that once stood at the corner of West George and North Whipple streets, Panek said.
Now, a week after another large storm dropped more than 19 inches of snow, Panek and other residents on the same block came together for a "Digout Party" Saturday — which neighbors hope will eliminate "dibs" in the area.
At 10 a.m., residents brought their shovels to clear snow that remains piled on sidewalks and streets, making it difficult to park around the neighborhood.
"This is the closest I've seen the community coming together in a long time," Panek said, who has been living in the block for 54 years. "This is what you call togetherness."
"You don't see this to much anymore, this is a nice attempt [at bringing everyone together] Panek said.
Alison Orton, 42, organized the event hoping it would reduce dibs around the neighborhood.
"It's a heck of a lot easier to work together than claiming your own territory," Orton said.
"It's a great way to get together, and help each other and also help those who can't shovel. It makes the block better," Orton added
Orton expects at least ten neighbors to stop by throughout the day and join the effort.
"The goal is to clear the entire block and possibly branch out into other streets, it depends on how long people hold out."
Annisa Wanat, who is running for alderman in the 33rd Ward, brought coffee before picking up a shovel and joining the community effort.
"Alison reached out to be and said, 'I don't like dibs, I want to do something about it,'" Wanat said.
After talking about it, they came up with a plan to have the "digout party," Wanat said.
"This event, and events like this make a stronger, safer and healthier community," Wanat added.
Rafael Torres and his wife, Margie, both 65, have spent three different days shoveling snow since the storm ended.
"If we work together and keep the streets clear of snow, there's no problem [with dibs]," Rafael Torres said, who spent nine hours Monday clearing snow around the neighborhood. "I don't like [dibs], it causes tension."
Kevin Ware, 34, who doesn't own a car, also came out to clear out the streets.
"We all live on the block, if we work together and get this cleaned up, there wouldn't be a need for people to put [dibs] on the street."
Like other residents, Elisa Addlesperger, who parks in her garage, came out Saturday because she was upset with the dibs practice.
"Dibs is a perfect symbol of dysfunction," Addlesperger said. "It's disgraceful that [the city] would allow it and say it's a tradition. Let's stop being selfish and help each other out."
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