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How to Host a Block Party

Block parties are one of the most delightful ways to connect neighbors, build community, and have fun! 

Planning a Block Party

To host a Block Party on public property, you need to apply for what the City calls a Play Street Closing Permit. This permit allows you to close a residential street to through-traffic so that you and your neighbors can use and enjoy the street during your block party. Here are some things you can do on the street and sidewalks with a Play Street Closing Permit:

  • Meet and connect with your neighbors
  • Play games like foursquare and double-dutch
  • Have activities like sidewalk chalk and blowing bubbles
  • Arrange chairs, tables, tents (10x10 ft or smaller), or other easily movable items
  • Have a potluck and serve free food

The City of Boston encourages all hosts to hold block parties that are free and open to the publicYou should apply for a Play Street Closing  Permit at least 30 days before your Block Party. Unfortunately, the Play Street Closing Permit does not allow for the following activities on the street or sidewalks:

  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Amplified music, stages, or risers 
  • Carnival rides, petting zoos, and pony rides
  • Food trucks or food being prepared on the street or sidewalk
  • Grills (propane, wood, or charcoal)
  • Inflatable structures like bouncy houses
  • Street vendors

A photo of people face painting sitting at a table on the street during a Block Party

 

 

Feeling ready? Start your Block Party/Play Street Closing Permit ApplicationYou should apply at least 30 days before a Block Party.

If this is your first event with the City, you will need to set up an online account. Your username and password can be used for future block parties and other City business, so remember to keep it in a safe place. You’ll be able to copy a Block Party application for future years if you want to have a recurring event. When you apply online, you need to give us some general information about your event.

After we receive your permit application, it is reviewed by the Boston Transportation Department and the Boston Police Department. Reviewers look at event logistics, transportation impacts, and public safety considerations. You may get a call from a City staff member if we have questions and suggestions about timing, which parts of your street you’d like to close to traffic, and how to move forward with your event. 

If you are interested in any of the following activities on the street or sidewalks, you will need to apply for additional permits:

Hosting the activities listed above on your personal property does not require additional permits and is the quickest and easiest way to include one or more of the activities in your block party.

If you decide to apply for additional permits, you may need to meet with the Special Events Committee, or proceed through applicable permit processes individually. Submit a Special Event application hereProcessing these permit applications can take up to 30 business days. Sometimes things change or emergency construction work arises, so the City does reserve the right to revoke your permit if that happens. If that does happen, you will get a call from the City and you can resubmit your permit for a different day.

It takes about 30 business days to approve a Play Street Closing/Block Party permit. If you have questions about the process or if your permit is taking longer than expected, reach out to your Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services liaison. They can help you to get your permit and answer any pending questions about your permit application.

Once you have received your Play Street Closing permit, you are ready to refine your plan and communicate with your neighbors. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • The Play Street Closing Permit does not remove parked cars, so communicate with your neighbors and guests in advance. We highly encourage you to create an event flyer or print out our sample Block Party event flyer to share with your neighbors in advance of the event so they can plan accordingly. Flyers should have the event date, time, activities, and information for how to volunteer and attend.
  • If food is served, we encourage hosts to consider providing options for people with food allergies and dietary restrictions.
  • Unfortunately Block Party play kits are no longer available. Numerous missing and broken pieces made the program unsustainable and we had to phase out the kits.
  • The Boston Fire Department and the Boston Emergency Medical Services require that a twenty foot (20') aisle be kept unobstructed, running the entire block, at all times to allow emergency vehicles to enter and exit.
  • You can block off the street with caution tape, traffic cones, and other easily removable devices. Vehicles cannot be used to close off the streets (see reason above: fire trucks need to pass). This is a Block Party, not a drive-in! 
  • In case neighbors or other folks have questions about your party and the process, have a printed copy of your Play Street Closing Permit on hand.

 

The Mayor's Office of Civic Organizing is pleased to offer block party grants for the second consecutive year. These grants, part of the Mayor's commitment to a vibrant, safe, and inclusive summer, provide up to $750 to assist residents and community groups in hosting community gatherings. Eligible expenses include food, games, and other party essentials. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and the deadline to apply is July 31, 2024, or until funds are exhausted.

To apply for a Block Party Grant, a Play Street Closing Permit is required and should be obtained at least 30 days prior to the event. Only parties on public streets are eligible for the grant. The grant application can be accessed after applying for a Play Street Permit within the same form. An information session will be held on May 15, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Link here.

For additional information, the Block Party Planning Guide is available here to aid in organizing your event.

If you have applied for a Play Street Closing Permit before the grant application was opened, please contact our office at civicorganizing@boston.gov.

Do you have questions about the Play Street Closing Permit, Vendor ID, or the Block Party Grant? Please refer to the City of Boston Block Party frequently asked questions for answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive. If you do not see your question listed, please contact the Office of Civic Organizing at civicorganizing@boston.gov for further assistance.

APPLY FOR A BLOCK PARTY PERMIT

Photo Credit:
Aaron Greiner
START YOUR BLOCK PARTY APPLICATION

Additional Support

Should you require additional information regarding Block Party Grants that is not available here, please contact the Office of Civic Organizing.

Additionally, you can contact your Neighborhood Liaison to select the perfect date for your Block Party, ensuring it does not conflict with other local events. They can also assist in spreading the word about your event.

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