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Block Parties Are Back — But Without Bouncy Houses, City Says

Block parties will be allowed this summer, though they can't make their return until July 5.

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CHICAGO — Block parties can return to Chicago — but not with bounce houses, officials said Thursday.

Dr. Allison Arwady, head of the Chicago Department of Public Health, said during a livestream Thursday morning that block parties will be allowed to be held with certain restrictions. Among them: Bounce houses — long a mainstay at the Chicago events — won’t be allowed.

The city’s Department of Transportation will start accepting permit applications for block parties starting June 6, though the events must be scheduled for July 5 or later, according to a letter sent to aldermen by Commissioner Gia Biagi.

Biagi’s letter outlined rules for block parties:

  • Organizers must notify neighbors of a block party and recommend COVID-19 vaccinations for people who plan to attend. Applicants must provide evidence a majority of the residents on the block approve of the party.
  • There will not be capacity limits, but residents who apply for a block party permit must volunteer as a “COVID captain to help communicate safety protocols.”
  • The COVID captain must sign a form attesting they will recommend vaccinations for attendees; communicate that unvaccinated people, including kids, must wear masks and social distance; must ensure there’s access to hand sanitizer throughout the party.
  • No jumping jacks or bouncy houses will be permitted.

More information about the events will be shared June 6, Biagi wrote.

Neighbors who want to host a block party should start the process by contacting their alderman’s office. Once that office has approved the event, the alderman’s staff will send the request to an online permitting system to be reviewed and approved by the Department of Transportation.

The city has signed off on major events — including music fests like Lollapalooza, Pitchfork and Riot Fest — but news about smaller events has been slow to come. Aldermen had raised concerns about the lack of updates around block parties.

“This needs to happen so that we can manage our neighborhoods,” Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) said earlier this month. “The demand is unprecedented and having no answer is not a sufficient answer. It’s almost June 1.”

RELATED: Demand For Block Parties Is Sky High But City Hasn’t Started The Permitting: ‘It’s Frickin’ Almost Summer,’ Alderman Warns

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