My German roots compel me towards beers and large platters of meat. Come fall, I get pretty excited about the Oktoberfest events around Pittsburgh. Nothing like a good polka to get my blood flowing. Well this year, Covid had other plans for my liver. So, for all of us that like to congregate around epic amounts of beer and sausage, we had to suffer disappointment or improvise. I chose to improvise.
I am fortunate to live in a community that understands the value of neighborly interactions. Block parties are a way of life and the municipality makes it easy to host them. For the cost of $25 and an online application that takes 5 minutes, you can get your street shut down and throw a party.
We like throwing a block party. My wife and I had a block party for our wedding reception, food truck and all.
So as I was lamenting the loss of enormous steins of beer, a friend posted in an online marketplace, that she had 12 enormous steins of beer to give away. An idea was born.
The name Blocktoberfest came pretty easy and the party setup wasn’t much harder. We had a few things to take care of in advance, but it came together pretty easily.
- Apply for a block party permit from the city. This took less than 24 hours.
- Call the local brewery to reserve a keg of Oktoberfest
- Hand out flyers to neighbors
- Message and email flyers to other friends
- Message neighbors and ask for extra tables and chairs
A couple of weeks went by, which gave me adequate time to knit my lederhosen and learn to play the accordion. When the big day arrived, I didn’t have too much to do.
Day of Blocktoberfest:
- Pick up the keg
- Grab ice
- Set up barricades
- Place tables and chairs in the street
- Turn on polka music
- Tap the keg
- Dance awkwardly
Blocktoberfest came together quite nicely. All the neighbors showed up, and quite a few friends came out from other parts of town. It was entertaining to notice people walk by our block, see the tables, fire pit and torches and without fail, make their way back to see what was happening. One woman showed up, filled up her plate, requested lemonade, which we did not have. Insisted on lemonade, so my wife made it, then she walked way with a full plate. Now that is how you Blocktoberfest!
As we know, nothing attracts people, more than other people. In a time where we don’t see one another enough, it was wonderful to see so many neighbors. Sausages were eaten, large beers were consumed, great conversations were had, many laughs were enjoyed, and our sense of community increased once again and I love my block even more.
It was a simple event, but I have heard from so many neighbors since Saturday night, telling me how much they enjoyed it and how nice it was to get together again.
So consider having your own Blocktoberfest, or Blockturkeyfest, or whatever themed block party you want. Or don’t have a theme and just invite everyone out. People need to get together and right now, we have to do that outside. So give them that opportunity. Bring people together because we all want to feel close right now.