This year, our street had an amazing block party. Every year that we have one, it’s always an event that is remembered and it certainly contributed to the cohesiveness of the block. Perhaps I have a bias, but I think Auburn Glen Circle is one of the tightest-knit blocks in Auburn Bay.
I think one of the ways that we got as close as we are, is because every year, some generous soul has taken time out of their day to plan a great block party in the summer. This year, that generous soul was Amanda Harrison. I asked Amanda to give me some pointers on how she pulled off the great par-tay that she did this year and with her help,
I have produced the following blog which should help more blocks around town pull off the same shindig, whether you’re in Cranston, Mahogany, New Brighton, McKenzie Towne, or Copperfield, these principles should all work the same.
1. Find a friend on the street and start talking
Two is better than one. Find someone who is willing to put in a little time and effort with you and start talking ideas. This year, Amanda had the brilliant idea of making a bike parade. My kids were thrilled with this idea and spent weeks preparing their bikes and coming up with ideas for the parade. For them it was like the American Thanksgiving Day Parade. For us it was like, “OK, we gotta get some balloons and streamers from the Dollar Store, and watch them bike around the block.” I was actually shocked by how much my kids looked forward to it. Really good job there, Amanda!
2. Pick a date
Realistically speaking, you’re never going to please everyone with a date. I mean, stick with the basics: keep it on a weekend, but maybe not a long weekend because everyone will be gone. Try to plan in early June when most people are booking their vacations.
3. Get a permit from the City/Book a Bouncy House
Unless you’re packing everyone on the block onto private property (which is unlikely) you’re going to need a permit to shut down a section of road on the street. In order to obtain the permit, you’ll need signatures from every house affected by the closure. Some rules to keep in mind include:
- The party has to be attended primarily by people from the block. You can’t plan a rager and pass it off as a community event folks.
- Block party can be booked from 10am-10pm.
- If you are the applicant for the permit, you need to be there from the start of the party until the finish. No ditching.
- Can’t drink on city property, but feel free to imbibe on your driveway.
- Can’t have a fire on city property.
Getting the actual permit is pretty easy, Amanda tells me. Just email in the signatures from the petition and the application along with the application fee of $25, and you’re all ready to go! Click here for the City of Calgary Block Party Permit site. Keep in mind that you’ll need barricades to shut down the section where the party will be. If you don’t have any, you can rent some from the city for $160.
Bouncy houses are a slam dunk for keeping the kids occupied in any situation. Having a pile of kids myself, I always appreciate when there is a bouncy house for 3 and under and a separate one for 4 and up. It helps to relieve the parents from constant policing.
4. Make some flyers
Flyers are easy to make on a common home printer. Amanda made some super-cute ones this year. They advertised the date, time, and cost, and—most importantly—the bike parade. Auburn Glen Circle charged $20 per family, which I think is a great price (especially for our family!). This bought a bouncy house, and a pile of burgers and hot dogs. Amanda also asked that people bring a dessert or appy. Ask people to RSVP ASAP and pay up front if possible. Put your email address on there so people can reply quickly and give you an idea for numbers.
5. Make your purchases
Amanda mentioned that this was the toughest part of the whole deal: trying to figure out how much to buy. She did end up with a pile of left over burgers and dogs, but she was also $100 short on her costs. So she has a deep freeze full of burgers and wieners. In general, I think it’s best to take the numbers you get and add 10% to what you think you will need. Always better to be over than under.
6. Track down supplies.
You’re going to need a couple of BBQs or grills if you’re doing burgers and dogs, and you’ll need a couple of tables to put condiments and all of the snacks that the folks on your block bring. You will probably be able to find these things between the people on your block. Make sure you have a plan for this ahead of time.
The thing about block parties is that it isn’t just about drinks and good times; it’s about getting to know your neighbours. Knowing the faces and names of the people who belong on the street is important for safety. The more you get out there and know people, the harder it is for criminals and mischief makers to cause trouble on your street. It also means it’s that many more eyes watching the street when your son or daughter falls off their bike on the other side of the block where you can’t see her, or when someone sees a stranger approach a group of kids on the block.
Sure, it’s fun to have a glass of wine with the gal three doors down, but planning a block party is about so much more. It’s about doing your part to make the streets safe for us and for our kids, and to decrease the feelings of isolation that are ever increasing in suburbia.
The Vanderveen Team believes strongly in community spirit. If you live in Auburn Bay and are planning a block party, please bring us your Lake Card and approved city permit application, and we would be happy to make a financial donation to your special day!
The Vanderveen Team
Maxwell South Star Realty
Phone: 403.253.5678 Fax: 403.592.6736