3 months before the party
Illustration by Toby Triumph
If you’re not the alpha organizer in your neck of the woods, find out who is, and enlist his or her help. Every block has one, and they’ll feel slighted if they aren’t a central part of the fun.
Reach out to Germaine Speth (firstname.lastname@example.org
), the point person for permits at the Department of Public Works, or visit city.milwaukee.gov/specialevents.gov
to submit an application for a block party permit.
Get your neighbors to sign on to the plan. According to Speth, there’s no hard-and-fast quota, but the city wants you to make a “good-faith effort” to get the signatures of everyone on your block.
1 month before the big day
DPW will share your application with the Milwaukee Police Department and your local alderman, who you should consider reaching out to, as he or she will have final say on approval. That being said, you can expect green lights all around, so long as you followed the above steps and aren’t asking to barricade a major thoroughfare.
Once you have approval, finalize your plans. The city will set up traffic barricades, but that’s it. You’ll want to draw up a plan for food, seating, shade and entertainment, including a playlist (see below).
Divvy up responsibilities. Making the event a BYOB affair will cut down on headaches, as will assigning out potluck categories.
1 week before showtime
Remember the children. If you want to go big, reach out to a party store such as Willie Fun Events (williefunevents.com
) to secure bounce castles, movie screens or a photo booth. Cheapskates might try a soccer ball or cardboard boxes. Kids love those things.
Think about cleanup responsibilities and ask for help before the big day so nobody is surprised – or vanishes – when it’s time to haul away the party’s rubbish.
Be considerate and, if requested, turn down your jams. “If there’s a problem,” Speth warns, “we’ll never issue you a permit again.”