As soon as the mercury hits 75 degrees, Philadelphians want to be outside. In this city, warm weather means block parties. And tons of them.
Philly is pretty much block party capital of America. In 2013, a report published by the City Paper showed, Philadelphia held way more more of the neighborly events than New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago or Boston.
Good news: the city’s process for scheduling a block party isn’t too heavy a lift — but it does take some planning, since it requires a permit and a few other advance actions.
Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need to do to host your own.
Choose a good location
The Streets Dept. has final say over okaying your location. Streets with trolley routes are not allowed (the tracks make them less than optimum anyway), and department officials decide on streets with bus routes on a case-by-case basis. Best bet, choose a roadway that’s not arterial or highly trafficked.
Figure out timing
Saturdays and Sundays are the only days for which a permit will be granted, plus those iconic summer holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day. The fee for Monday events is higher, however — $150, compared to $25 for weekend events.
Don’t wait too long
If you submit your request to the Streets Dept. at least 21 days in advance, you’ll be charged that $25. Wait until it’s less than three weeks away, however, and the cost jumps to $60.
Also, no applications will be processed within four days of a requested date; that’s cutting it too close.
You should expect to hear back with approval (or denial) within two weeks of the event.
Another reason to get an early jump on the process — and to be nice to your neighbors: you’re gonna need signatures.
Along with your party application, you’ll have to submit signatures (on this form) from at least 75 percent of the people living on the block in question.
Once you’ve filled out the application and collected the signatures, you can submit everything online (get ready for an annoying $1.95 convenience fee). You can also drop everything off in person at the Municipal Services Building at 1401 JFK Blvd., behind City Hall.
If you want to snailmail your application, that’s apparently allowed, but must not be too popular anymore — the Streets Dept. doesn’t even publish a mailing address, instead asking you to call for info at 215-686-5560.
Block off the street
On the day of the event, the Streets Dept. asks that you block off the street with caution tape. You are not allowed to use cars to block entrances, however, because emergency vehicles must be able to go through if needed.
After you and your friends and neighbors have partied your hearts out, be sure to clean up. Trash has to be picked up and stowed by 8:30 p.m. on the event date. Too much leftover garbage can be reason for the city to deny your permit request in the future (yes, they keep track of these things).
If you arrange it in advance, you can arrange for the Streets Dept. to come do a special pickup for a $50 fee.
No more than five events are allowed on any given block in a single calendar year. Another reason it’s a good idea to coordinate with your neighbors, so you can each host the parties you want.
- Alcohol. But you can’t sell it. Sorry, Philly, them’s the rules.
- Water ice! Perhaps enough for your block to host a slurping contest?
- A DIY game of pin the soda tax revenue on the donkey
- A dumpster pool, if you’re feeling extra risky. But expect a visit from L&I.
- Or a dunk tank, a.k.a. the legal version of a dumpster pool.
- An outdoor air conditioner. Yup, that’s a thing. Gotta stay cool!
If this all sounds like too much work…
Don’t be a hero. Take the easy route and attend someone else’s event — there’s a ton of them listed already.