A block party pool in the summer of 2017

Last year, the Cedar Street Block Party became internationally famous. If you think you haven’t heard of it, you probably have: That was the party with the dumpster pool.

Yes, THE dumpster pool. The one that made headlines across the country (and world) after Billy Penn reported on how innovative adventure-seeker Justyn Myers created a sidewalk swimming hole out of a trash container, sparking a witty but scathing response from the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.

“We are not screwing around, Philly,” said L&I in a statement warning against copycats. That same statement also noted the department would not issue any future event permits to the entire 2400 block of Cedar Street.


But that wasn’t enough to stop Myers, who also leads a progressive Mummers troupe and is known for his uncanny ability to find cliff-jumping spots around Philly.

Myers’ efforts started this spring when he found himself at the Streets Department for work (his day job is in architectural design) and he realized he was in front of the same desk that issues the permits. “Can I have my block party this year?” he asked the woman sitting there. She looked up his address, and then started giggling. “You’re crazy, swimming in a dumpster!” she said, and the whole office cracked up laughing about the incident.

He asked how to go about fixing the situation, and the official put him in touch with her supervisors. After emailing back and forth for months and being bumped from person to person with no progress in sight, Myers finally called his lawyer last Monday, who suggested he get in touch with Councilman Mark Squilla. Squilla turned out to be the man of the hour, putting Myers in contact with the appropriate people at L&I, who then “reluctantly pushed it passed the PR people in the city,” per Myers, and issued the permit.

Dated last Wednesday, July 26, the permit had been adjusted from its standard format to specifically say “no dumpster pools allowed.”

But Myers is not one to disappoint. So he and his friends came up with a totally different way to cool off: A roadblock pool.

Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

In weeks leading up to the party, he and and his friends went on a mission they called “Operation Jersey Girl,” and collected all the orange plastic Jersey barriers they could find. The night before the big event, they arranged them in a 12-foot by 8-foot rectangle, created a bench on the inside, covered the bottom with astroturf and draped the whole thing with layers upon layers of waterproof tarps.

On the morning of Sat., July 29, they cinched the whole thing off with ratchet straps, and began filling it up with a garden hose, hoping the contraption was water-tight. Boom, it worked.

Throughout the day, the pool got tons of use. Moms waded in with their little ones, older kids did belly flops off the side, and adults lounged waist-deep with cocktails and beers. The party also featured plenty of other activities, including a giant water slide tunnel, a dunk tanks, a DJ and a moon bounce, plus sausages fresh off the grill. The whole neighborhood was invited, and dozens of people turned out for the fun.

So: No dumpster, no problem. Roadblock pool forever.

Credit: Danya Henninger / Billy Penn

Danya Henninger was first editor and then editor/director of Billy Penn at WHYY from 2019 to 2023.