Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Joys of Homeownership: Jersey Chainsaw Miracle

It's not often someone knocks on your door holding a chainsaw and you're happy to see them. Two days before Halloween, no less. But that's exactly what happened last weekend during the freak snowstorm (complete with thunder) that hit us here in lovely northern New Jersey.

My wife and I were scrambling to salvage our annual Halloween party. Remember how crazy we are about Halloween, and the bounce house we had bought as an "investment?" The snow wiped out our hopes of a backyard party. So we were frantically preparing our basement. This was our backup plan. Jamming a hundred people (half of them children) into our hastily-decorated, unfinished basement.

I went upstairs to get something. That's when I looked out the window over the kitchen sink and saw this:
This was scary. And then...

Not good. Doubt is starting to creep in. This storm is obviously a lot worse than anyone anticipated. That's when I heard cracking, rustling, and crashing from the front yard that ended up being this:
Goodbye, old friend
It came just inches from our beloved swagger wagon:
A very close call
That was it. The party would be canceled. Halloween, as we knew it, was off. Bummer. We fired off an email to our party guests, breaking the bad news. At least we still had pumpkin carving.

But I wasn't sure how that giant branch (heck, it was a pretty good-sized tree is what it was) would be removed from our driveway. I assumed the town would come since that tree is technically its jurisdiction. Then, the cynical journalist in me thought, "Am I really going to wait for my local government to clear a path for my family to get out of our home?" That's when the doorbell rang and there appeared the aforementioned chainsaw hero. My neighbor from down the street whom I hadn't even met yet. (They just moved in last month.) His wife had received the cancellation email and told him it sounded like we needed help. In a half hour, the two giant trees and a third smaller one that had fallen on our property were cut up and piled on the curb.
One of several piles
He saved us. And he ultimately saved Halloween. The next morning, feeling energized and fortunate that we still had power, my wife fired off another email. She invited our neighbors and their kids over for a very mini version of the party we were planning. There was no pumpkin chili, no bounce house, no hay bales (they were covered in snow) or spider ring toss.

What was there? Relief. Happiness. Fun. The kids played in the playroom. They gorged on candy, juice boxes wrapped up like mummies, and pumpkin-shaped cheese sandwiches. The parents traded chainsaw tales over Sam Adams Octoberfest and Yuengling Lager. We even did the pinata... in the basement (which incidentally would not have come close to fitting all those people).
The Peanut in the middle of the post-pinata candy scrum
All thanks to a friendly stranger with a chainsaw.

We are lucky to have a lot of awesome neighbors who will go to great lengths - and heights - to help us.


  1. That's awesome! There aren't very many people left in this world that will help their neighbors out without expecting something in return. What a great area you live in!

  2. That's awesome that a perfect stranger would lend a helping hand, although one carrying a chainsaw is usually not welcomed. It must give you a good sense of security to know you have such a tight knit group. It's rare anymore.

  3. Good thing you have "Jason" down the street - I mean your neighbor and he's generous with his power tools. Resourceful neighbors who are willing to share are hard to find! Sounds like you live in a really fun neighborhood. How nice that you guys still had the Halloween party for the kids.

  4. One of the things that will keep us on this block, even if/when we have a second and our house ultimately starts feeling cramped as a result, is the great group of neighbors we have. This is just one of many examples.

  5. I love your perfectly placed images to help the reader with the short attention span stay focused. Sad news about the tree. Happy the party was able to go on thanks to an amazing neighbour.

  6. We had a couple of awesome neighbor moments during this lovely week. I'm relieved the trees didn't do more damage. And I'm so glad you got to celebrate Hallowe'en in style!

  7. I hope you saved me a Sam Adams! I wish I had a neighbor hood like that.

  8. Yay for your friendly neighborhood chainsaw owner saving Halloween! We ... well my parents... have an unfinished basement, and while it is big (albeit full of crap), I can't imagine having even myself down there and having a good time let alone over a hundred!

    For Love of Cupcakes

  9. old neighbor down the drivewayNovember 12, 2011 at 1:47 PM

    Good old fashioned midwest hospitality from your neighbor - we miss him out here!

  10. I just talked to my sister, a single mom in Connecticut, who had a similar story. Kind of makes me wish I had a chainsaw and a truck. I could put a team together and go make some cash up there. You guys are of luck with the cleanup!


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