Anatomy of a Block Party

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With everyone back from vacation and the weather still fine, the fall block party season is in full swing around the towns.

In Maplewood, the procedure is simple — but requires some planning. A permit must be obtained from town hall for a $25 deposit. Organizers need to take the form, obtain signatures from residents, then return the form and pay the deposit to get the permit. The town clerk then informs the Maplewood Fire Department so that the firefighters can bring a truck to the party. Organizers must pick a date and a rain date.

Shortly before the event, the Department of Public Works (DPW) drops off barriers to the organizer.

The remainder of the process rests with the organizers.

On Plymouth Avenue, we’ve been charging a flat fee per household, plus $5 for each additional guest. The fee pays for burgers and hot dogs, buns and condiments, soda, beer, wine, water, juice, plates, tablecloths and utensils.

Several weeks before the event (ideally), neighbors are informed via email from our Plymouth Avenue listserv. In addition, fliers are printed and placed in mailboxes.

Each family brings a side or dessert. Many volunteer to bring and run games. This year included sack races, a donut-eating contest, a water-balloon toss, and a ping-pong table. One neighbor plays DJ at the event. As dusk descends, each child receives two glow-in-the-dark necklaces (the better to spot them in the gloaming!).

After DPW picks up the barriers, organizers get a call to retrieve the $25 deposit from town hall.

Meanwhile, neighbors have met and mingled, and a block of houses becomes a community.

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