It’s startling to me that one week ago, I sat here in my living room planning out my day thinking it involved the Hollywood Farmers Market and then a block party. My plans certainly didn’t involve my little son being hit by a car on the way to the farmers market. The block party was a welcome distraction after our unbelievable trauma that morning.
I live in the best neighborhood, and sometimes it feels like every weekend is an organic block party. It’s BLISSFUL, and I mean BLISS. FULL. to walk outside and find neighbors and friends, and let the kids play while the adults catch up on life’s little whatevers. Sometimes you’ll find the kids sitting on blankets doing art projects, sometimes riding their bikes & scooters up and down the sidewalk past the other kids drawing with chalk. Often, faces are painted or the many nail polish colors are out. Always, it’s a good time.
But when it comes time to throw an actual block party, we mean business.
We have a loosely-formed and ever-expanding group of Mommies On The Block or MOTBs, who plan the party. The first year, there were 8 of us and we all agreed on a amount that we would each be willing to throw in, $50. We put out a donation box for the rest of the neighbors, and after counting up the donations we divide the rest between us. We each end up spending between $25-35 each year, which is awesome for such a fun party.
We block off the street several hours in advance of the party, to give everyone a chance to move their cars and start getting their stuff out. The kids go crazy knowing they can ride their bikes IN THE STREET! Who knew the street was so much fun?
The trick to throwing a block party in Portland is to get a permit from the city, which also provides you some insurance through the neighborhood association. There is a small fee to pay, and your party is insured. Event planner’s dream come true, I don’t mind saying. You get every neighbor to sign a petition agreeing to the street being closed, then turn everything (petition and event application and street closure application) in to your particular neighborhood association with the fee. The association forwards it to the city, who issues the actual permit. Whew! But worth it to have the insurance. And oh yeah, and to make it legal!
Once you have a permit, you can arrange for barricades to block off the street. They run about $45, and we got them at American Barricade on Columbia Blvd in Portland.
So… speaking of permits…. Our A-hole neighbor whom we like to call “Richard Cranium” because we don’t want the kids to pick up on “Dick Head” decided to try to ruin the block party. Fortunately for me, he had been out of town so I hadn’t able to get his signature on the petition (I was just grateful that I didn’t have to ask him for anything). We know he knew about the party, though, because of the awesome flyer painted by the kids last year and updated for this year.
Regardless of this killer flyer, he obviously thought we hadn’t gotten the permit because… wait for it…
HE CALLED THE COPS TO SHUT DOWN THE BLOCK PARTY!
Can you even believe such a-holiness? It didn’t work, of course. The officer showed up and started handing out “Junior Crime Fighter” stickers to all the kids, and posing for pictures and flashing his lights. It was only as he started to leave, when we thanked him for making time to come, that he revealed that Richard Cranium had called to complain.
Actually, Officer Friendly called Richard Cranium “Mr. Whiny Face.” Sweet, sweet justice.
I sure wish Mr. Whiny Face would stop being a Richard Cranium. But we won’t let it ruin our BEST NEIGHBORHOOD EVER. We’ve got a great thing going, block party or no!