The summer months bring about barbecues and backyard parties. For some neighbors, it’s the perfect time to get together and socialize at a neighborhood block party. A Pinterest search of block party yields plenty of ideas and suggestions, but two Macomb Township block-partiers says the key is to keep it simple and have fun.
Kimberly Rajnert helped organized a summer kick-off celebration party for her neighbors for three years.
“One of our neighbors mentioned that she always wanted to do an end-of-school party for the kids and that sparked the idea for a block party. I took the initiative and started planning,” Rajnert says.
Mike Zuckero has put on three block parties since he moved into his subdivision in December 2014. He organized the first event to help meet many of the people in the developing neighborhood.
“It’s good for the community. It’s good for people to get together,” Zuckero says.
Keep it simple
In Rajnert’s neighborhood of about 40 houses, about a handful of neighbors split the cost with a donation from the homeowners’ association to plan the party. Using a vacant lot next to Rajnert house, the neighbors organized simple food, a bounce house and dunk tank. The neighborhood attendees brought their lawn chairs and coolers for drinks for the casual, Saturday afternoon celebration.
“We try to keep everything as simple as possible. We do hot dogs, which are easy to grill ahead of time and set out in a chafing dish. We avoid things like salads and items that need to be kept cold,” Rajnert says.
Zuckero’s block party this year included a DJ, bounce houses, a visit from the Kona Ice truck and the Macomb Township Fire Department. There are also plenty of yard games and activities. However, the party organizers do not provide food or alcohol, which helps keep costs down.
To accommodate the party, Zuckero’s neighborhood closes down a street. Each city is different about street closings for block parties, so when planning a neighborhood block party, be sure to notify the local police department and fill out any necessary paperwork with the local government.
With the block closed down, people are asked to move their cars to another location in the neighborhood if they need to leave during the time of the party.
Zuckero says it’s important to get the neighbors involved in the planning so it doesn’t fall completely to one person.
“Be vocal, be informative, ask for help, ask for ideas and try to get everyone involved in the process,” Zuckero says. He suggested polling neighbors on the date and location and keeping everyone aware of the planning process early on.
Zuckero’s neighborhood raises funds for the block party all year long. This year, Zuckero helped fund the event by organizing several can and bottle drives. He also solicited local businesses for gift baskets and donations that were raffled off at this year’s party to raise funds for next year.
While planning a neighborhood block party takes work and organization, Rajnert says it’s all about the fun.
“Don’t get stressed out about the details. The whole thing is just supposed to be fun and for people to get together. Keep it simple. Adding a bunch of things, complicated food or decorations can make it stressful. Remember that it’s just about having fun,” Rajnert says.
“Remember, it’s all about having fun, so don’t take yourself too seriously.”