It’s hard to imagine that something could make kids any happier than the last day of school, but there is at least one possibility—a block party. The kids will be thrilled to scarf down hot dogs and run, bike or scooter up and down the car-free street until the sun goes down. Meanwhile, you can relax and catch up with your neighbours. Here’s your savvy guide to pulling it off:
- Form a planning committee with some interested neighbours. At your first meeting, agree on a date (and a rain date). Bear in mind that the City of Ottawa may need at least 30 days to approve your permit application.
- To obtain the necessary permits from the city, including permission to close your street to traffic, call or email Pertrina Bonia at the city: (613) 580-2424, ext. 28164 or Pertrina.Bonia@ottawa.ca. She’ll email you an application form and answer any questions. Permits are free of charge, and the city will provide the street barricades—you just have to pick them up.
- Create and deliver a flyer to advertise the party. Your flyer should also explain what party-goers need to bring. An easy formula is to have everyone show up with drinks and their own food to barbecue, plus one other item to share, such as a salad, side dish or dessert. They should also bring chairs if they need them.
- Get a few neighbours to agree to wheel out their gas barbecues for the big day. You’ll also want to solicit a few large coolers and some tables for the food people bring. Someone should volunteer to provide paper plates, napkins and condiments.
- You’ll need music, and there are at least two good possibilities here: make a playlist and blast it from your living room speakers, or hire a live band. Maybe you know a musician whose group would be willing to play for drinks (or peanuts)!
- Decide what games and activities you’ll plan for the kids. Some ideas are face painting, pick-up soccer, basketball or street hockey, chalk murals, hopscotch, freeze dance and skipping games.
- If you have a bit of a budget—for example, if your neighbours are willing to pony up $10 or $20 per family, or if you can find sponsors (more on that below)—you may be able to hire entertainment, such as a magician, or rent inflatable activities, like a giant slide or moon bounce.
- You’ll have to pick up road barriers on the day of the big shindig. Have your kids make and decorate large posters to attach to the barriers so people know there’s a party going on.