How to throw a great street party

Street parties bring neighbours together and create lasting memories and friendships.
Street parties bring neighbours together and create lasting memories and friendships.

 

Over the past 13 years, the annual Faraday Street block parties have taken on a life of their own. With close to a 160 guests this year, they’re much grander than the average street party. However, the Faraday parties can serve as a model for any festively inclined street.

Evelyn Eldridge, a Faraday neighbour, refers to herself as the “head delegator” of the whole affair. “It sounds like I don’t do anything, but I do!”

One of the first things she does is phone the city (613-580-2424, extension 28164) to obtain a Special Occasion Permit. The application needs to be submitted in writing 30 days before the event, which means planning starts in the spring.

Years of experience have revealed the ideal time to amass one’s neighbours is just before school starts. “Literally, people take off very quickly.” Also in May, a form is sent out to all her neighbours, asking them to both save the date, RSVP, and pay a small amount for the barbeque (the extra money always goes to charity).

Families also pitch in and bring either a dessert or a salad to the event. “Early on, we were getting some really not so great food,” Evelyn admits, “but then one neighbour had this great idea to make it into a contest. And man, has our food improved. It’s amazing what a little competition can do.”

The other main tasks are divided up between the neighbours. Children’s games and crafts need to be planned and set up. Face painting is a must. They’ve come to prefer Circus Delights (613-728-5050) for the much adored bouncy house. There’s the barbeque, a juggling show, and volleyball in the evening. Someone has to pick up the barricades from the City of Ottawa Surface Operations Branch for the big date, and, of course, music is key to maintaining the event atmosphere.

The street party has become a key and transformative event in their neighbourhood. “Since we started, Faraday’s become just a complete fairy-tale street,” Evelyn says. It became the catalyst for the neighbours to truly get to know one another. “It’s like Mr. Roger’s neighbourhood. The children just love it.” They all go out to other events and vacation together. The kids all play together.

And, thanks to a few great street parties and some excellent planning, Faraday now has 13 years worth of memories, and many more to come.

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