How to Throw a Block Party
Follow these five steps and you'll be a block party pro.
Photograph by Melissa Brown
Throwing a block party will give you the opportunity to get to know your neighbours beyond the hello-how-are-you routine while you're wrangling kids and groceries into the house. It may sound like an insurmountable amount of effort to arrange, but follow these five steps and you'll be a block party pro in no time flat.
1. The first step in organizing a block party is to get signatures from most of your neighbours to allow you to block traffic on your street. They’ll have the option to say “yay” or “nay” to the event, which will give you insight into who might be an enthusiastic volunteer when it comes time to host.
2. Apply for the $25 permit online at calgary.ca (you’ll need the petition and a map of the party area/road that needs to be closed).
3. Gather your gear — essentials for a block party include a gigantic barbecue, a bouncy castle, and games designed to break the ice. Large barbecues are available through event-rental companies and range anywhere from $100 to just over $200, depending on size and type. If you’re thinking of having a bouncy house, be sure to ask about the material. A PVC bouncy house is made for commercial use (and events like a block party with a lot of potential bouncers), while a nylon bouncy house is designed for single-family fun. When it comes to games, Rebecca Dakin, communications and community relations specialist at the Federation of Calgary Communities, recommends activities like water-balloon tosses, bubble battles, a group grill-off or neighbour bingo as activities that will help to get things lively.
4. Gather your volunteers — divide and conquer all of the duties from running games for kids to operating the grill and cleaning up.
5. For even more block-party tips, download the Federation of Calgary Communities resource guide, “Love Where You Live: Host a Block Party!” from calgarycommunities.com.