Dallas and Fort Worth, as cities, have a great tradition of outdoor gatherings to celebrate holidays, to advance causes, or just to have fun and enjoy pleasant weather with friends. Increasingly, neighborhoods also are getting in on the act, scheduling clean-up events, informational meetings, community garage sales, or potluck dinners just for the fun of it.

Are You Ready for a Party?

Some brand-new subdivisions use the classic block party to introduce new homeowners to one another. It provides an informal way to meet, and to promote friendship, with little organizing work. Outdoor events are extremely casual, and food is never a problem when everyone brings only one dish. An option would be to charge a set fee per person, take reservations, and have the event catered by a local barbecue restaurant. Or, you could simply set up several grills for cooking, and request potluck salads and desserts.

There are a few official details to be aware of. Both Dallas and Fort Worth have forms to be filled out and filed if you want to block off a street for an event. The requirement is that every resident in the affected area signs and agrees to a specified time for street barricades. Some municipalities have safety stipulations, but city governments are very supportive of block party efforts. Local police departments actually encourage neighbors to interact on a social level, because knowing your neighbors means everyone is better equipped to watch out for each other.

Always check local requirements when planning a group event that will spill into the street or take place in public areas.

What to Do

An effective event really doesn’t need any entertainment, but special events are fun. You could plan some games for different age groups, provide some music — for listening as well as dancing. A bounce house for the kids is always a hit, and generally worry-free fun, as the party rental company will handle setup and dismantling. A weekend afternoon is, of course, prime time for a block party, allowing everyone a chance to prepare food, arrive, and relax for a few hours.

Consider inviting the local police and fire departments. Police officers often attend events to distribute neighborhood watch information, and sometimes the local fire station will offer kids a chance to try on helmets and boots and sit atop the seats of an engine. All you have to do is ask.

If the neighborhood is small, you can include the entire subdivision; alternatively, you might plan the party for only a two-block area of one street, and block both ends for two hours. You might schedule an alley clean-up in conjunction with the party.

When It’s Over

Cleanup is a cinch following a block party. Basically, it’s a “take your own trash home” event. If all the neighbors pitch in to bring food, tables, and chairs, and commit to having a good time, the event is painless and could become an annual tradition.

If you have a great idea for a holiday block party, or want to bring your neighbors together in support of a cause or event, there are some procedural guidelines to follow. But all it takes is a little time, and you can meet a lot of new friends.

So, if you have the idea, enlist a neighbor and start planning! Your fellow residents will be grateful for your efforts, and you can help the whole area become a friendlier place.


Photo source: Flickr