Throw a Great Block Party!
Everything you need to know — from tasty food your guests will remember to details you won’t want to forget.
Whether this is the first get-together for your neighborhood or you’re seasoned party-meisters, advance planning is a must.
• Pick a date — and a rain date. Some groups forge ahead in a drizzle; for a downpour, you’ll want to reschedule.
• Set your radius. One rule of etiquette you must follow: Invite every household in your determined area — absolutely no exceptions.
• Divide the workload. Generally, a few neighbors supply grills, and others bring tables and chairs. Assign food detail: burgers, franks, appetizers, salads, desserts. Collect money for drinks, condiments, paper goods, ice, and rented equipment.
• Apply for a permit. As soon as you’ve set the date, call your local police or municipal services department — your request may have to be in several weeks beforehand. Also ask about roadblocks. Your local police may deliver them the day before your event.
• Find out about fees. Some towns charge nothing; others have a set cost and require a deposit on top of that. Don’t be surprised if your group has to take out a special-event insurance policy to cover personal injury.
• Check on agreements. Before you can get a permit, you may need a written okay from every household on the block. Permits can be obtained from the Village of Bolingbrook.
Invite your Local Heroes
In many towns and cities around the country, it’s a tradition to ask members of the fire and police departments to neighborhood parties. Sharing a burger builds community relations. It also makes the men and women in uniform more approachable for small children (especially if the kids get a chance to climb on a bright red fire truck and ring the bell or to sound the siren on a police cruiser).
Keep the Kids Busy
While some neighborhoods go deluxe, pooling hundreds of dollars for a rented dunk tank or a hired magician, many groups confine the entertainment to traditional tugs-of-war, sack races, bike parades, and scavenger hunts. Swap tables of outgrown toys, books, videos, and children’s clothes are also popular; a group may charge a nominal fee and use the funds to offset party costs.
In Montclair, New Jersey, at the annual Nassau Road/Patton Place party, games are a highlight of the day. “The kids love them, and the parents get to socialize without having to watch their little ones every minute,” says Patsy Manning, energetic organizer and mother of two, who offers these suggestions:
Egg-on-spoon relay. Kids must run about 15 yards, then pass the spoon to the next competitor on their team. First team to finish — without dropping the egg — wins. Hint: Use hard-cooked eggs to avoid a mess.
Water-balloon toss. Pair off children; after each throw, have them take a step back. Winners: those whose balloons last the longest without bursting. This should be followed by…
Balloon pickup! Kids collect all the pieces. The three children who gather the most scraps get the first swings at the piñata. (Hang piñata — available for about $10 at party stores — from a tree limb, a couple of feet above the tallest child.) The rest of the kids line up in size order (shortest first) to take their turn.