This summer, you’ll almost certainly attend a block party, be invited to one or at the very least be driving through the city on a Saturday afternoon and be forced to detour around one.
Philadelphia is the king of these celebrations. Last year, according to the Streets Department, the city issued about 6,000 licenses to throw a block party. Over the next two months, around 3,300 block parties alone will be scheduled, if the July and August see as many applications for block parties as last year.
And when Philadelphia is called the king of block parties, it’s barely an exaggeration. In 2013, City Paper found that Philadelphia substantially outnumbered New York City (2,300), Washington D.C. (500), Los Angeles (250) and Chicago (5,000) in yearly block parties. Only Boston (5,000) compares. Accounting for population, its block party frequency is actually greater.
A block party is about exactly what it sounds like. It’s a party on a single street block on a weekend or holiday. They can’t be held on weekdays. They are limited to between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. If you’re personally applying for one, you must live on that block. It could extend for multiple blocks if you get other people in the neighborhood to apply at the same time. During a block party, you can even forget about the open container laws of Philadelphia and drink a cold one. But you can’t sell any alcohol.
Hosting a block party here is simple. You can take part in Philadelphia’s summer tradition by following a few easy steps.
Fill out this form
This the main step. Once you fill out the application and pay a fee, turn it into the Streets Department.
The Streets Department doesn’t like getting last-minute requests for street events. Plus, if you submit an application for a street event 21 days or more before your requested date, the fee is only $25. The fee is $60 within 21 days.
Know your neighbors
The application requires 75 percent of the households on your block sign off on you having the block party.
Make sure your block doesn’t party too hard
Blocks are limited to five street events per year.
Clean up after yourself
Don’t make a mess at your block party. The Streets Department will hold that against your block if you apply for one again in the future. You can pay extra to have the Streets Department pick up your trash before the regular pickup day.
Don’t request a block party on a major street
Other reasons for denying requests, according to the Streets Department, include a history of police activity during previous block parties on a given block and transportation reasons. If there are important bus or trolley routes on your block, you might also be out of luck. The Streets Department won’t allow block parties on streets with trolley routes and decides on streets with bus routes on a case-by-case basis. And if you live on an arterial roadway, like Spring Garden Street or Columbus Boulevard, you’re also out of luck. The Streets Department won’t close down those types of streets for block parties.