Scare up Good Times Year Round
- Published: Monday, Oct. 19, 2020
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Halloween may look different for children and neighborhoods this year. But it is a good reminder that a neighborhood block party is the opportunity to scare up fun any time of year.
"A neighborhood block party is an opportunity for neighbors to get together, meet each other, have fun, and maybe work together on an everyday activity," said David Burton, a community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
There are seven good reasons to have a block party at any time of the year according to Burton.
1. To provide an opportunity to know your neighbors and where they live.
2. To increase a sense of belonging within your community.
3. To learn a little about each other and know who might need help from time to time.
4. To meet neighbors on your block and the skills, you offer one another.
5. To help with safety/crime prevention by knowing who lives around you.
6. To develop an opportunity to meet some of the older neighbors and learn some history.
7. To have fun, because no excuses or reasons are needed to celebrate.
According to Burton, there are several things to consider when organizing your event (including some new factors during this COVID19 era).
"In general, it is best to find one or two neighbors that will help plan an event. You can take the Lone Ranger approach, and it can be a great event. However, it may make it more difficult to find someone else to organize the next event," said Burton.
If this is the first time you have done a neighborhood event, you may want to send out a flier (door to door is best) explaining the event, encouraging attendance, and sharing some of the benefits. It might also be a good time to offer a survey to gather input on how to handle the food and maybe even the best dates and times for the event.
Burton recommends enlisting as many neighbors as you can to help with the event. Get help distributing those fliers, calling neighbors, being a host site, or helping with food or children.
"Neighborhood events or block parties can take a lot of different forms. My best advice is to keep it simple. If you go overboard, it will make people feel like the event is too much work," said Burton.
Some of these event ideas are time tested: neighborhood garden tour, neighborhood barbeque cookoff, neighborhood potluck, neighborhood picnic (bring your own food), or even catered with neighbors sharing the costs.
In general, Burton says the “idea friendly method” is best, and that community development strategy says to start small and grow the event. Start with your cul-de-sac, perhaps. Then expand it to your street or your whole block. If the party is restricted in size, make that clear in your flier.
Getting the word out can be accomplished with a delivered flier or a mailed letter. But the personal touch and personal invites are always best. Encourage neighbors to call each other invite those living around them.
"Word of mouth is most likely to get a good turnout, and it also forces neighbors to get acquainted and visit with each other," said Burton.
For more information on the value of working with your neighbors, enroll in University of Missouri Extension’s online course entitled “Becoming an Engaged Neighbor.” The course description and registration link can be found at https://extension.missouri.edu.
Writer: David Burton
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