I want to be a good neighbor. To me, this means knowing the people who live around our family and fostering ways to draw everyone together. If I had known how easy it was to plan a block party, I would have championed the idea a lot sooner. Don’t be intimidated by applying for a permit or securing barricades — a neighborhood block party is actually quite simple (and inexpensive!) to pull off.
1. CONSULT YOUR NEIGHBORS
- Find a day and time frame that works best. The latest you can party is 10pm due to the noise ordinance.
- Decide what streets you want to barricade. We did a 2 block stretch to keep it intimate and to allow plenty of space for kids to play and for people to gather.
2. APPLY FOR A SPECIAL EVENTS PERMIT
- Plan to apply at least a month in advance to have plenty of time to get approval.
- Familiarize yourself with the application process on the Special Events Permits page. Email or call the Department of Business and Neighborhood Services with questions, (firstname.lastname@example.org; 317-327-8700, option 2 for Special Events).
- Review the instructions for applying for a Special Events Permit.
- Create an account on the Citizen’s Action Portal AND apply for the permit. The whole process took me about an hour, and now I have an account for future events.
- Complete the Block Party Information Sheet and submit to email@example.com.
- There are no fees for a permit for a block party unless you are closing a street that has parking meters. You do not need a certificate of insurance for a block party.
3. PERMIT APPROVED!
- You’ll get an email once your permit is approved. Save this email just in case you need to access it on the day of the event.
- The staff from the Special Events office will also provide additional info and reminders.
4. PLAN FOR BARRICADES
- Barricades are available at no cost from the city, but they DO NOT deliver. You’ll need a plan to pick up and return.Barricades are ~8ft long and ~4ft high. You’ll need a truck or similar vehicle.
- Due to high levels of demand, the city cannot provide barricades during the month of May and the weekends of the Indiana Black Expo, Brickyard 400, Moto GP, and Circle City Classic. If your block party occurs during these times, you will have to rent state-approved barricades in order to close the street.
- Since our block party was in May we rented barricades from Indiana Sign and Barricade (317-377-8000). They were very helpful and easy to work with. Eight total barricades cost us around $50. Pick up and drop off was required, as well as a vehicle that could accommodate.
5. INVITE THE NEIGHBORS!
- Everyone in your event zone must be notified at least two weeks in advance. Text, email or make a flier to deliver. Include day, timeframe (include set up and tear down), street closures and a phone number or email for questions or RSVPs.
- Have a way for neighbors to sign up to provide food or drinks. We had coolers scattered throughout the block with beverages to share, everyone pitched in snacks, sides or desserts, and one neighbor was in charge of grilling.
The Little Extras (or “lagniappe” as we’d say in Louisiana)
MUSIC: Do any neighbors have a sound system they can set up on their porch to blast a playlist? Or maybe someone has a connection to a band to come play for a stretch of live music? We are so fortunate to have musicians as neighbors! They had sound equipment and played an interactive live set for the kids.
SEATING: Drag porch or patio furniture out into the street for areas of seating and have people bring out camping chairs or blankets in their yards.
WEATHER: Consider tracking down a tailgate tent to cover food in case it rains. If it does rain, just make the best of it. Our block party had its fair share of rain but everyone was having too much fun to go inside.
KIDS: The freedom to (safely) run wild in the street is such a thrill. Kids could also ride bikes and scooters, do chalk, bubbles or stomp rockets , or put up small soccer goals. Our crew passed around a sign up sheet for grown ups and kids to run in the “Big Race” to finish the night. It was a short run from one end of the block to the other. The race was surprisingly competitive, and no, I did not win (or come in second…..or third….or fourth….you get the idea).
The best part of all is time with each other — live it up!
Marlin Bruns is an Indy Maven contributor who loves gathering with her little block community and will take any chance she can to (safely) allow her kids to run wild and free.
All of our content—including this article—is completely free. However, we’d love if you would please consider supporting our journalism with an Indy Maven membership.