So those warm summer evenings are almost here and you're thinking it would be nice to get together with your neighbors and hold a block party, but you don't know where to begin. Have no fear- it's easy to throw a block party!
If you would like to close your street, you will need a Street Closure Permit from the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). You need to apply directly to PBOT to get this permit. A new permit application form and instructions for 2013 are available on the PBOT website--CLICK HERE. You also can call the PBOT block party line at 503.823.4003.
If you need advice on organizing your block party, staff at your Neighborhood District Coalition Office can help.
Here are some simple steps to help you on your way.
1. Recruit a couple of your neighbors to help organize your party. It's not that much work, but it's always more fun when you have some friends helping with the project.
2. Poll your neighbors and decide on the date and time of your party. Choose a date that works well for most of your neighbors. Remember, National Night Out is the first Tuesday in August of every year.
3. Decide whether you want to hold the party in a neighbor's yard or close down your street for the evening and spread out. You can also hold your party in a park. Park permits are free for National Night Out parties sponsored by neighborhood associations. Download the reservation form. The Park Reservation phone number is (503) 823-2525.
4. If you want to close your street, you will need to get a Street Closure Permit from the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT). You must apply directly to PBOT for this permit. The permit is free through June 30, 2013--after that, PBOT may charge a nominal fee. The Street Closure Permit application (and instructions) are available on the PBOT website--CLICK HERE. You also can call the PBOT block party line at 503.823.4003. The application packet includes instructions, the simple one-page application form, a petition to take take to your neighbors for their signatures, and a traffic control map on which to list name of the street you want to close. You also will need to obtain barricades to close the street (the application instructions include advice on renting barricades--the rental cost usually is around $50). You will need to send the application sheet, petition, and traffic control map directly to PBOT.
5. Make a list of food and items needed for your party. Perhaps you'd like to have an ice cream social, with each house bringing a different flavor. Or how about a barbecue with side dishes? A "white elephant" gift exchange? A piñata for the kids? A finger-painting contest? A costume party?
6. Go door-to-door and have all your participating neighbors volunteer to bring something to the party. Remind them to bring folding chairs and sports equipment if they want. You can also recruit people to help with other tasks, like picking up and returning the barricades. Or, if you do not want to go door-to-door, you can prepare a flyer and distribute it to your neighbors letting them know about the planned NNO block party. The flyer not only states the date, time, and location, but can provide information about the type of party (ice cream social, pot luck, etc.) The party flyer can also state what partygoers should bring like lawn chairs, drinks, utensils, etc.
7. Consider whether or not you would like to have any special entertainment at your event. If you would like to amplify music, you will need a noise permit. Usually noise permits cost $58 but for National Night Out they are free. Simply register your event on the National Night Out homepage and you will automatically have a noise permit filed. Be sure to describe the type of amplified sound you will have.
8. If your block has been organized into a Neighborhood Watch, this is a great time to update your block map and phone tree. This is also a great opportunity to start a Neighborhood Watch where one has never existed before.
9. Once the planning is done, sit back, relax, and enjoy your party! Don't forget to take pictures.