10 STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL BLOCK PARTY
Talk to your neighbors!
Chances are they will be excited about the idea. Get their input on what they’ve done in the past, what works and what doesn’t. Also solicit help with putting it together because you’ll need it. Most of all, make sure you get the word out so that everyone knows about it and can give input regarding the date and what connections they may have that will make the party planning easier.
Get a Permit.
Getting a permit for a block party in Chicago is free but you still need one. This will allow you to block off the street. Contact your Alderman’s office to apply. The permit will be issued by the Department of Transportation, which needs it at least 3 days prior to your party in order to accommodate your request for barricades.
Come up with activities that both adults and children will enjoy.
Successful block parties are a team effort, and the planning process can be as effective in getting to know your neighbors as the party itself. Once the party is a go, ask your neighbors to put their talents to use. Who is the weekend DJ? Who loves putting together game ideas? The more ideas, the better the party. If you know the block party is going be a big event for families with kids, you can put in another application with the City of Chicago. The city supplies inflatables for kids to bounce and play in during block parties. Residents can submit an application to receive an inflatable for four hours between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. during their block party. Have plenty of things for the kids to do. This is a great opportunity for them to “just be kids” while under the watchful eyes of you and your neighbors.
Develop a master list of the items you need for the party.
Allow neighbors to sign up and volunteer their time or property. You can also appeal to local businesses and organizations near or on the block to lend tables, chairs, and other party equipment. Someone may have a huge grill, a powerful speaker or other things they can donate so you’re not trying to rent everything.
No block party is complete without good food.
Typically, the best way to feed the neighborhood is by embracing a potluck style. Create a sign-up sheet for your neighbors to avoid too much overlap. Sometimes a couple of grillmasters can handle all the barbecue—just have everyone bring what they want and put it on the grill. Another option is for everyone to just make their own picnic food and set up their own table on the sidewalk or parkway. It looks great to see neighbors outdoors, enjoying the weather, music and good food up and down the block. You can even have a table decorating contest.
Prep for the Party.
You can put bows on the trees, tie balloons to the front doors, or have the kids make signs advertising the event. Spray the block with Yard Guard (or another brand) an hour before the party starts. It really helps to keep the bugs at bay.
Don’t forget your seniors!
Have a plan for them to get out of the house and join in or at least be able to enjoy the activity from their front window or porch. Be sure to “take them a plate”!
Invite your first responders, alderman, and other community leaders.
This is a great way “put faces to the names”, build relationships and show your appreciation for their hard work.
A block party is all about being a good neighbor, which means cleaning up the street after you are done partying. Ask for volunteers to take down and return borrowed equipment. Draft kids and teens to gather up any stray trash.
If things are going really well and people aren’t ready for the party to end, consider a movie night. A small projector can be purchased for around $100 and a lot of them come with a screen. Remember that the barricades will likely be moved before dark so plan this activity to take place in a safe location. Another idea is to plan a block movie night a couple of weeks later to keep the camaraderie going.
Once you’ve thrown a successful block party, chances are you and your neighbors will look forward to it becoming a summertime tradition. The ideas for your block party are endless. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and assistance with your party planning.