Though the once famous Castro family block party, held every Fiesta along De la Guerra Street, has become a faint memory, and block parties have become more of a tradition on such occasions as Solstice and the Fourth of July, we as Santa Barbara citizens have the chance-moreover the responsibility-to rekindle the joy of neighborhood soirees. Following is a guide on how to throw your own bash in the comfort of your ‘hood.

First, clear the party with the police. To request a permit form, email SBPD Officer Scott Naganuma, who is in charge of special events, at Fill out the form, and either submit it online or deliver by mail or in person to the police station. You have to pay a $60 fee and prove that at least 50 percent of your neighbors grant permission. (Note: You have to apply 30 days in advance for the permit.)

The next move is to give a call to Milpas Rental (963-1987), a mostly construction-oriented store at 6 North Milpas Street, and rent barricades to block off the street. They must be equipped with flashing lights if the party is to go into the night-as any good party should. The police mandate a 22-foot access opening to allow emergency vehicles entry in the event of an ill-timed accident. The barricades are a bargain at only $4.27 per day, and generally no more than four are required at each end to block the block.

For the rest of the neighborhood party gear, go to Discount Party Rentals ( at 423 North Salsipuedes Street or Event Rents ( at 389 South Los Carneros Street, Suite B, in Goleta. Both companies carry everything one could possible need for a block party, from canopies to dance floors to glassware. Prices start at fewer than $2 per chair and $10 per banquet table, to as much as you want to pay for your all-out Fiesta fantastic fandango.

As for drinks, the city does not allow any alcoholic beverages on public grounds unless given permission by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control or by the Parks and Recreation Department if on their grounds. People usually keep to their lawns and private property, so abide by the rules and play it safe.

For food and other party necessities, you’re on your own, but I’d suggest tri-tip or some S.B. Channel seafood to re-live the flair of yesteryear.

If the big, crowded parades scare the kids, the expensive drinks wear on your wallet, or you just want to hang out with your friends and neighbors, bring the block party back for good. And send me an invite.


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