10 Reasons To Have a Block Party
- To have fun – no excuse or reason to celebrate!
- To meet your neighbors.
- To increase the sense of belonging in your neighborhood.
- To organize a city-sponsored group such as Neighborhood Watch.
- To make connections within the community. When you know people, you can exchange skills or resources and perhaps organize a book club, baby-sitting co-op, share walking to school duties, or find new friends for your children.
- To plan a campaign for traffic slowdown, get better lighting, or address other interests.
- To “use” the street for one day, for example to roller blade, set up a kids jump house or to practice bike safety skills.
- To meet some of the old-time residents in the neighborhood and learn about its history.
- To have a neighborhood clean-up day, play some good music and barbecue once all the work is done.
- To start a tradition of getting together at least once a year.
How to start organizing
- Gather a few neighbors and divide up the tasks. A block party is too big a production for even the most highly-skilled organizer to accomplish alone. If you don’t already know you neighbors, reach out to them by organizing an introductory meeting and planning session.
- Decide on a possible theme, activities, etc. Decide what to do about food.
- Start knocking on doors to find out if there is enough interest and, if so, which day would be the best for the most people
- Pick a date and time (mid-afternoon to evening works best). Respect neighborhood quietness after 9:00pm. Think of an alternate plan in case of poor weather.
- Go door to door. Hand out invitations. If you plan to close off the street, you’ll probably need to complete Block Party application form.
- Recruit volunteers to help with the planning.
- Decide if this will be a block party restricted to those on the street/block or will people be able to invite friends/relatives
- Post signs the day before reminding everyone to remove cars and that the street will be closed.
- Invite a city council member, school principal, or city staff member.
- Call the Police Department, Fire Department, Environmental Services or other city departments to obtain literature, give-aways, or to request a presentation.
- Make a record of everyone who attends and everyone you contacted; after all, the idea of a block party is to connect neighbors.
- Identify special talents your neighbors might have – you may be living next to a magician, singer, dancer, artist, radio host or prize winning cook.
- Plan lots of activities for children.
- Food: if you’re looking for the least fuss, work, and cleanup, the hot dog is for you. The standard charcoal grill is a cheap, easy, portable way to go. Someone on your block probably owns one if you don’t.
- Lots of block parties have great luck getting food donated from local grocery stores or supermarkets.
- Have an environmentally friendly party. Ask everyone to bring their own reusable plates, cups and cutlery to limit paper garbage and litter.
- Include activities that encourage people to meet each other. Use nametags and include children by asking them to create the tags.
- Make sure that people with disabilities can participate in the activities and include their attendants (those with seeing eye dogs or in wheelchairs).
- Institute a bathroom policy “Everyone to use their own” so that home security is maintained.
- Trash: have at least one trash can at every table/location where food is being served. It’s also a good idea to have several elsewhere on the block.
- Inspire clean up after every party by rewarding children with a prize for packing up garbage.
- Have a block/street clean up as part of the party. Also, neighbors may want to contribute towards the cost of a truckload to the dump and use this to clean out gardens, garbage or alleys.
- Distribute an evaluation form to participants (to get a good response, number the forms and have door prizes for returned entries).
Getting to know your neighbors
- Identify any special people that lived in your area such as the longest resident, politician, artist, eccentric, hero, etc. Have partygoers guess who, what, where through charades and other games.
- Have everyone bring his or her favorite family dish.
- Use a map to indicate where everyone originally came from.
- Water balloon or egg toss
- Hide and seek
- Face painting
- Organize a kids talent show or parade
- Sidewalk chalk
- Pictionary or charades
- Musical chairs
- Invite a clown, balloon artist or magician
- Rent a popcorn or snow cone machine
- Discuss what issues/concerns people may have (keep this to a predetermined time: remember, a block party should be fun).
- Establish teams to explore how to resolve the concerns.
- Have a clean-up time.
- Build a bench, plant a garden, and paint street numbers, etc. as part of the block party activities.
- Alcohol is only permitted on private property, not on city streets or in parks.
- Residents should observe security precautions, for example lock back doors to houses and keep equipment in sight.
- Food cannot be sold on city streets unless the proper permits have been obtained. Give the food away (and there’s nothing to stop you from putting a “suggested donation” sign on the table).
- Loud amplification of music is prohibited.
- If you set up tables and chairs on the street, leave room for emergency vehicles.