How To Have A Great Block Party

ScrumptiousIf I could, I’d put a pig roast in every book I write. That’s how much I love them. However, I think you can only pull the trigger on a pig roast once, and I put one in SCRUMPTIOUS. So for any of you out there wondering why the HELL Joe and Marlene drove to Kentucky to have a pig roast, now you know. My books are a big ole reflection of my life in food! And speaking of pig outs…

My kids went hog wild with cupcakes!
My kids went hog wild with cupcakes!

Last weekend was the Fourth Annual Pig Roast Block Party in our neighborhood, an event that our kids call “The Best Day of the Year!” Part of what makes it so special is the pig, of course. It’s a novelty, and it gives the neighbors a chance to hang out and socialize for up to twelve hours while it cooks. My husband Ben is the Pig Master and our next door neighbor plays Games Master. There are at least 80 kids on our street, and while they like to squeal about the pig on the spit, they need lots of activities to keep them entertained. The adults manage just fine on their own. 😉

8 hours in!
8 hours in!

You certainly don’t need to go the pig route to have a great block party! (However, if you do want to roast a pig, this post covers our process.) Here’s how to work block party magic before, during, and after the event. (Disclaimer: I asked Ben what is the single most important thing for a good block party. His response: the uncontrollable…weather. About a month before the party, he becomes a weather worrywart, checking the forecast every few hours. OMG, the torture. There’s nothing you can do about the weather, but here’s how to plan for everything else we can think of!)photo(47)

Big Picture:

  1. If you want to roast a pig, source the roaster and book it as soon as you have a date. Crazy people like us book months ahead of time.
  2. Distribute the flyer to all the neighbors about a month in advance.
  3. Call the town or whoever is in charge of allowing you to close down the street, and get that set up. The town drops off the barricades, and we close off the center of our street for as long as we are permitted. Guess what? Kids LOVE to play in the street!
  4. We also request a visit from the local volunteer fire department. As it turns out, it’s even MORE FUN to play in the street when it’s flooded! It helps to know someone in the department, and we feel very lucky to have such a good neighbor. If you are as lucky as we are, don’t forget to take up a collection for the fire department!Pig cookies

The Food:

  1. We charge a per family fee to cover the pig, the roaster, prizes for the games, ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, rolls, plates, forks, napkins, and ice cream novelties (unbridled access to ice cream sandwiches=awesome).
  2. Everyone brings a dish. Ben refuses to micro-manage this, so some years everyone brings pasta salad…and some years there’s a great mix of dishes.
  3. BYOD – Bring your own drinks. We do solicit a donation from Pepsi because a Pepsi guy lives on our street. YAY! (Click the red box below for the rest of the post!)

The Fun:Pie!

  1. The games are great fun for the kids, and usually one adult takes the helm of each game. That way no one has to be in charge all day and can be free to drink beer…or water. Whatever.
  2. We do an annual decorated bike parade for the littler kiddies, and a coloring contest (a pig, of course!) and  scavenger hunt for kids of all ages. Dollar Store/Party Store prizes are key for this! So is getting an impartial judge, i.e. one with no kid in the contest.
  3. This year we added a pie-eating contest that Ben wanted to be a cross between Stand By Me and Revenge of the Nerds. The prize for that event was a Vosges chocolate candy bar with BACON in it! The Games Master conducted a balloon toss and a home run derby in the yards across the street, and then it was time to eat.Street fun!
  4. After dinner, the adults lined up for the traditional egg toss. Actually, this year we let quite a few kids participate, too. I made a spectacular catch! But then I fell on my butt, so that’s a push. One year I caught an egg full in the chest, and was glad indeed the party was in my front yard. I had to shower and change clothes! Great fun – highly recommend the egg toss for pure hilaritaire.
  5. Other ideas: a band, a visit from the K-9 corps, a magician…ask around and find out who on the street has contacts. Then work them! It’s great to have a tent for the food, for example. Thanks, neighbor! And…PAULA’S DONUTS!!!! 🙂 Need…more…donuts!

Other helpful hints:

  1. Get the perishables cleaned up within the 2-4 hours zone after dinner if there is anything you plan on keeping.
  2. Do a pass for garbage, cans, and bottles when you take the barricades down. That way it won’t blow around overnight.
  3. Don’t eat too many of these:Jell-O

…and stay away from the gummy worms soaked in rum, especially if you are on clean-up duty the next morning!

Have a great block party!

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