Remember the traditional summer block party,where neighbors barricade streets to grill and socialize under the sparkling sun? They still go on – they just take detailed preparation.
To spread the word about block parties,post fliers well in advance. Do this not just the month before,but also two weeks before,and even the day before,recommends Laurie Gillman,a mother of three who organizes the summer event near her home in Washington D.C.,a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol.
“We’re an all-inclusive block-party,” she says. “We always end up with tons of food and drink,plenty for everybody.”
Having one night of the year when the kids can play in the entire street,instead of just a “tiny yard,” gives everyone a “thrilling” experience,she says.
But before the thrill,organizers often must get permission to close the street.
In Gillman’s case,that means gathering signatures from at least half the residents,the five-time party planner says. Then planners must apply for a permit from the police department,which can take almost a month.
“There are a lot of block parties on Capitol Hill; this is the first place I’ve noticed it happening a lot,” the Texas native says. “It lends itself a lot because there’s a lot of density,” with dozens of families in row houses and small apartment buildings.
She asks neighbors to contribute a part of the meal,such as dessert or a side dish,and everyone chips in about $5 to buy meat. Sprinklers,chalk and bubbles add to the flavor of an event that seems typically to fall “on the hottest day of the year,” Gillman says.
“Every year,people have suggestions of how to make it better,with entertainment or bands. It’s fine just to have grills and people talking,” Gillman says. “Keep it simple and it’ll be fun.”
If,by chance,an unhappy neighbor or someone’s car happens to be locked within the ring of party central,the disgruntled resident should be taken care of the same way as someone who’s become a bit intoxicated,says Michele Adams,co-host of Fine Living’s upcoming show “The Perfect Surprise Party.”
“Obviously,be as nice as possible. That can diffuse the situation that might not be going the way you expected,” Adams says.
Not all block parties call for a block,Adams says. When she lived in New York,apartment residents would gather inside the building for block party-style gatherings,minus the block.
Like traditional block parties,Adams says,these happen during summer and involve gabbing and grubbing. While she suggests that the traditional block party might be on the decline,Adams says that “it’s a great way to know people that live near you.”