Block Parties are a Great Way to Get to Know Your Neighbors

This feature originally appeared in the May/June issue of the Hyde Parker.

At the March neighborhood meeting, North Hyde Park Rep Chad Moore shared information and ideas for hosting block parties. Planning a block party with your neighbors helps you get to know the people living on your street, and a well-connected street makes for a safer neighborhood. Some Hyde Park blocks host annual parties, some invite neighbors from surrounding streets, and others keep things smaller by inviting just the neighbors on their block. If you’re interested planning a block party for your street, permit applications are available online at kcmo.gov/publicworks/permits. Applications must include the signatures of at least 60% of your block and should be submitted one month prior to the event. The HPNA Social Committee has put together some tips and other helpful information to get you started.

Visit the HPNA Blog at hydeparkkc.org/blog to find out more, or you can contact Chad Moore at northrep@hydeparkkc.org if you need more guidance in planning your event.

North Hyde Park block party!

Host a block party with help from the HPNA

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association’s Social Committee has put together a packet of helpful information, tips, and applications for any neighbors who would like to host a block party. Read the tips and FAQs below, and click here for the application for a block party permit!

If you would like a hard copy of this information, please contact a Board member.

Block Party Tips

We are so happy that you are considering organizing a block party! The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association encourages neighbors to organize block parties as a way to meet neighbors, enjoy community spirit, and have fun! We also know that blocks with neighbors who know each other enjoy the added benefit of less crime. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need assistance as you work through this process!

We hope that these tips will help your organizing process be smooth and trouble-free!

  • Set a date. Talk to some of your neighbors and find a date, likely a weekend day in the summer or fall. You may choose to hold your block party for an entire day or just for a daytime or evening potluck. Consider what will work best with your block’s demographics – older neighbors and families with young children may want the party to wrap up on the earlier side. Plan a date about two months in advance to give yourself enough time for paperwork and planning.
  • Decide on a location. The middle of the block is best for your main gathering spot! If the party location is perceived to be too far from their home people may not participate. However, if you believe some of your neighbors will not initially be excited about the party, you may choose to focus on using a section of the block with supportive neighbors.
  • Claim your date. Please notify HPNA of your desired date so that we can spread them out among our neighborhood. You can either email Chad Moore at northrep@hydeparkkc.org or contact us through the website at https://hydeparkkc.org/contact-us/
  • Fill out the application & get signatures. Print out the KCMO “Neighborhood Block Party Application for Permit”. Note that you will need signatures of 60% of your neighbors, so plan to walk around on an evening or weekend when everyone will be home!
  • Mail your application. There is NO FEE to hold a block party, but KCMO requests they receive applications a month in advance (at the address on the form), though they will accept permits up to five days before the date. When using city blockades, there is a $30 fee which is reimbursed when they are returned. If you need assistance in making this deposit, please feel free to contact the HPNA board.
  • Establish expectations/guidelines. You’ll want to make expectations clear, especially if this is your first block party. Think of what safety matters will ensure the most fun for all. Can neighbors invite friends? Who will be in charge of clean up? Are parents expected to stay with their children? Ask neighbors to clean their front yards of animal waste and other litter before the party. Be sure that a pathway is left open for emergency vehicles – just in case!
  • Decide on a theme & activities. You may decide to have a simple potluck or go all out with a beach-themed luau! Fun block party activities may include:
    • Chili cook-off, mac ‘n’ cheese contest, or wine tasting
    • Bounce house
    • Sidewalk chalk
    • Bike race
    • Tie-dye station
    • Bike decorating & parade
    • Movie on the street
    • Pet parade
    • Fire truck (or other truck) visit
    • Food trucks
    • Fire pits & s’mores
    • Face painting
    • Water table/sprinkler/pool time/water balloon toss
  • Share the duties. Be sure to enlist neighbors to help carry out these awesome ideas! Who is going to call the food truck? Who will get the ice, the drinks, the sidewalk chalk? Will you ask that participating families contribute a certain amount of money for the bounce house rental? Don’t underestimate the resourcefulness of your neighborhood teens to create games and decorations!

If you’re having a potluck, you will want to assign foods, i.e. “even addresses bring a main dish; odd addresses bring a side dish or dessert” or “last names A-J bring main dishes; K-S bring side dishes; T-Z bring desserts”. You might even want to use a site like Sign Up Genius to get everyone organized!

  • Tell your neighbors! Be sure to share the final plan with all of your neighbors (including neighbors at rental units) so everyone can plan ahead, especially with regards to parking. Pass out flyers with a timeline for the day and what everyone should plan on bringing. Hand deliver with a smile on your face!
  • Enjoy! After finalizing plans with volunteers, enjoy your day! Be prepared for the unexpected, and be ready to roll with it. The rest of the neighborhood would love to hear about your party – take photos and share some on the HPNA website!
  • Clean up. Be sure to enlist help to stay and help clean up so that your party doesn’t become bothersome to neighbors. Return blockades and signs.
  • Follow up. A few days after your block party, check in with your neighbors for feedback! What went well? What should be changed and improved for next year? Thank everyone for their help in making it a great event!

 

Block Party FAQs

Why should we have a block party?

The Hyde Park Neighborhood Association encourages neighbors to organize block parties as a way to meet neighbors, enjoy community spirit, and have fun! We also know that blocks with neighbors who know each other enjoy the added benefit of less crime.

What do I need to do hold a block party?

Simply set a date, fill out the needed paperwork & notify HPNA, get signatures, and decide on activities! More information can be found on the “Block Party Tips” page.

How many of my neighbors need to give their permission?

KCMO requires 60% of neighbors on the block sign off on the proposed date.

 

What if my neighbors aren’t interested in having a block party?

Some neighbors may not be excited about the thought of limited street access for the day. If this is the case, you may decide to limit the party to only a portion of the block, preferable the middle for easy access for all neighbors. (If you do this, you will want to also block off the ends of the block to keep other cars from driving down your street.)

 

Where can we get tables, chairs, and other items to use at our block party?

Pilgrim Chapel has graciously offered to let neighbors borrow tables, chairs, and drink coolers for their block parties. We suggest a donation of $1/table, $1/10 chairs, and $1/cooler to help cover the cost of wear and tear of these items. Simply contact Pilgrim Chapel to make arrangements.

 

How can I host a “green” block party?

A neighborhood block party doesn’t have to result in a lot of waste, and a “green” party doesn’t have to be complicated! Choose activities that don’t result in trash, such as bike races, water play, and cooking contests. Opt for a potluck meal so that neighbors can use their own cookware and serving dishes. Request that everyone bring their own plates and cups to use. Provide a bin for composting leftover food and recycling bins for empty drink containers (or better yet, use large pitchers!).

 

Who should I contact if I have more questions?

Your HPNA Area Reps are happy to help! For assistance, contact the North Hyde Park rep, Chad Moore, at northrep@hydeparkkc.org. South and Central residents can contact their reps with area-specific questions at southrep@hydeparkkc.org and centralrep@hydeparkkc.org! Additional information may also be found on the HPNA website.

Family Movie Night This Friday!

Come spend time with old neighbors and meet some new neighbors at this family-friendly event! We’ll have areas for the kids to play, booths to learn about neighborhood opportunities, snacks, and an indoor screening of Coco, the winner of the Best Animated Picture at the 2018 Oscars.  FREE popcorn and pretzels will be available! And … FREE Betty Rae’s Ice Cream scoops!

Pajamas are encouraged! Don’t forget to bring your blankets, teddy bears, and even a picnic dinner to enjoy with your neighbors.

All Hyde Park neighbors are invited, whether you have kids or not! HPNA membership is not required (though we do hope you’ll consider joining!).

  • 4 pm – Kid Zone opens; come let the kids unwind after a long week!
  • 5 pm – Raffles begin
  • 6 pm – Movie Begins

Click here to view the Facebook event page.