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In Praise Of Block Parties Large And Small

In Praise Of Block Parties Large And Small

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It would be surprising to find another city in America, or even the world, that has the same philosophy that Philadelphia does about the block party. What the Free Birthday Grand Slam Breakfast is to Denny’s, the block party is to Philadelphia: There is a tacit understanding among us that everybody deserves one, that putting up a couple of fold-out tables and some baby pools and having your neighbor rig together some kind of sound system to blast Freestyle is a birthright that could predate the city itself. Local government websites (especially these days) have, one assumes, a limited capacity to convey joy, but don’t tell that to the little nook on phila.gov you go to when it’s time to apply for a permit.

Of course, there are rules: The block shouldn’t be a major thoroughfare, and sadly, as of this writing, the Dumpster Pool Decriminalization Movement is only in its infancy. But taken as a whole, the Philly block party comes in every flavor: Some block parties are big, some have the same nine people every year and that is fine.

But all block parties start with that same philosophy and that same happy form website. The simplicity of what one needs to get a block party permit in Philly has also always been a delightful thing to know:

"ONE ADULT SIGNATURE PER HOUSEHOLD FROM 75% OF RESIDENTS LIVING ON THE BLOCK IS REQUIRED FOR APPROVAL OF BLOCK PARTY PERMIT"

By edict of the city, it takes 75% to get a party going. Something about this feels not just like local statute, but universal order.


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