A street party is a great way to get the people in the community together to get to know each other and make it a safe and more fun place to live. If this is the year that you’re finally going to organize a party on your block, here’s how to make it happen.
Start out by distributing a letter to your neighbours outlining your idea for a street party and some of the benefits — meeting new people, creating a sense of community and of course, just a fun day out. Include a questionnaire asking them to indicate what dates work best, what kind of event they prefer and their interest in participating and volunteering. Timing: Two to three months in advance (depending on size of party).
Get Organized Gather some neighbourhood volunteers to come together and settle on some details regarding the party such as the date, size, theme, food, budget, suggested donation amount etc. Timing: Six to eight weeks in advance.
Get a Permit
Most special-events applications for a street closure can be downloaded from your municipal website. Ask your municipal office about permit fees, how to obtain liability insurance, where to rent traffic barricades and about noise bylaw exemptions if you are planning on running your event into the evening hours. This is also a good time to contact your local fire service and police departments about having a fire truck and police cruiser at the party – a surefire hit with the kids. Timing: Six to eight weeks in advance.
Food & Drinks
Figure out if food and drinks will be free with a donation, if you'll sell tickets or if everyone provides their own food to grill. Will you prepay an ice cream truck driver to provide open-bar style treats? If you are asking people to contribute to a potluck, design a sign-up sheet. Timing: Five weeks in advance.
Fun and games When planning activities, consider who lives on your street. If there are hordes of kids, organize games (see sidebar for list) with small prizes, a face-painting/temporary tattoo booth and water balloons and sprinklers for hot days. Think about renting bouncy castles, and other cool activities which can be done through Lendr. Blankets and baby toys laid out under a shady tree provide an oasis for new parents to sit and talk, while your more senior residents might enjoy a few tables set aside for card games. As night falls, keep the party going with music (provided by a DJ or a collection of talented folks from the street) and dancing, or even an outdoor screening of a movie. Timing: Five weeks in advance.
Get the Word Out
Hand out the invitation with all the party details. If there are still games that need to be run, BBQs that need to be staffed or items such as tables required, solicit volunteers (include a contact number or e-mail). Ask each household to sign up a dish for the potluck and to drop off donations. Remind neighbours to bring their own chairs, plates, cups and cutlery. Or, you could easily rent such equipment from Lendr. Timing: Four weeks in advance.
Distribute a reminder flyer including a schedule of events and a final call for volunteers. Go door-to-door with it, using this opportunity to collect any outstanding donations. “We get approximately a 80-90 percent success rate on these donations.” He also recommends leaving a note on cars on the street asking drivers to park somewhere else on the day of the party. Timing: One week in advance.
The set up Put up barricades and designate areas for food, activities and seating. Sweep up litter and collect chairs, tables, canopies, garbage and recycling bins, BBQs and a music system. Ask younger volunteers to put up signs, balloons or any banners you have to decorate the area. Hand out nametags to organizers. Timing: That morning.
Bring the block bash Kick off your inaugural event with a super starter like a bike, pet or silly hat parade, then get the activities and tables set up. Finally, get out there, meet your neighbours and get busy making mental notes for next year’s party.