City’s Block Party Kit leads organizers on the path to neighborhood fun

Photo courtesy Caroline Selle.

BY DANA PATTERSON — Block party season is approaching. Don’t just attend one — plan one with the help of the Block Party Kit provided by the City of Hyattsville.

According to Community Services Director Jake Rollow, the block party kit is a tool to promote community involvement.

“The city encourages and supports neighbors and residents to get to know each other and build the community in many ways,” said Rollow.

Available on the city’s website, the the Block Party Kit is a guide that provides tips on how to make your party, and party planning, a success. Not sure of what a block party is? The city defines it as an event and or celebration thrown by neighbors that requires the closing of part of a street. This is where a block party permit comes into the picture. A permit is required by the city if street closure is necessary. According to Rollow, many residents in the area have applied for this particular permit in the past years, said Rollow.

Consider the Kennedy Street block party as an example. For the past eight years this party has been a resident favorite, held in September or October.

Kennedy Street block party attendee Rebecca Wilson said, “It’s a lot of fun; usually live music, amazing potluck food, and drinks and raffles.”

The Block Party Kit recommends planning activities to help “introduce new neighbors and help them make connections.”

Wilson believes such events have made a difference in the community. “It’s a great way to get to know the neighbors,” she said.

Councilman Robert Croslin (Ward 2) is one of the organizers for the Kennedy Street party.

“Planning the block party for the first time for Kennedy Street made me nervous because we wanted a moon bounce for the children and a band for the adults,” Croslin said. Although organizers charged $20 per family, they went over budget, and Croslin had to pay out of pocket to fund the rest. However, once neighbors discovered this they contributed more.  To help keep costs down, Croslin said subsequent parties worked out better by introducing a raffle, eliminating the moon bounce and adding face painting. They also invited the city’s fire department.

“I think block parties are important. [A block party] creates an opportunity for neighbors to get to know each others and develop relationships.  As a side benefit, the relationships serve as a block watch for the neighborhood,” said Croslin.

Dana Patterson is a summer intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times. She is a resident of Hyattsville and a rising junior at Pennsylvania State University.