How to Hold a Block Party
Written by NSN Coordinator   

The following description is based the work that Poets' Square Neighborhood Association did in preparation for their October 31, 2009 Halloween Block Party. The party was held 1-4 PM on Catalina Ave between Burns and Poe (SE of 5th St. and Columbus). Recommendations and tips are from Dave Salafsky who worked with his wife NA Co-chair Yissel Salafsky, and with NA Co-chair Amy Schaller and others to set up the event.

Start at least 90 days before the date of the event. There are a number of things to organize and you'll appreciate the time. Consider linking the event with a holiday, with a nearby neighborhood or with ongoing activities in the neighborhood.

Consider the budget. Poets' Square spent about $500 for their party. They received financial help from the Ward 6 office and were able to use part of their PRO Neighborhoods grant that supported several projects including a water site demonstration garden in the blocked off street segment. A raffle helped with expenses and neighborhood association resources (neighborhood dues) were tapped. Pizza and water were purchased (part of the $500) - talent was donated.

Get as many neighbors on board to volunteer as possible and tap into neighborhood talent (music, crafts, etc.).

There are a number of jobs for volunteers:

  • Block party coordinator
  • Person(s) to arrange pickup, placement and return of barricades
  • Person(s) to arrange amenities (chairs, tables, tents, electricity access, etc.)
  • Person(s) to arrange talent, information tables and other entertainment
  • Person(s) to arrange food, beverages and vendors, if any
  • Person(s) to design and distribute flyers, send invitations, coordinate publicity
  • Person(s) to arrange business contributions, raffle, etc.
  • Person(s) to staff the sign-in table (raffle tickets, name tags, etc.)
  • Person(s) to take photos of the event
  • Person(s) to cleanup
  • Set up an activities log /check list showing who is responsible for what, and keep it updated.

Pick a street for your party. A short street segment, or part of a street, is best where the residential access is minimized so as to not inconvenience those directly adjacent to the site. Contact anyone who might be affected along the street segment as well as nearby (parking). Let the TPD Community Resource Officer for your area know of your plans.

Obtain a permit for street closure. The contact in October 2009 was Billie Lee in City Traffic Engineering. The cost was $125. Poets' Square was successful in getting Ward 6 to cover this cost. Contact a barricade company (Poets' Square used Ajax) to set up a street closure plan and to obtain the barricades. The cost was $200 and neighborhood volunteers picked up and returned the barricades.

Obtain commitments for talent, information tables, food contributions and vendors if any. Begin to plan the layout of the street space within the barricades. Consider decorations and signs.

On the day of the block party, start to set up at least three hours before the opening time. Stage any vehicles or trailers that need to enter the area before the barricades, decorations and tables are finalized.

Pray for good weather (and have a contingency plan).    Enjoy your party.

Thanks to Dave Salafsky for his help on this article.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 January 2010 )
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