Castles, Bulls, Mini-Golf
Three infinitely Instagrammable diversions.
The Bouncy Castle
Scope out the nearest power source, then designate a space that’s at least sixteen-by-sixteen feet. The smallest bouncy castle at New York Inflatables, the preeminent renter of bouncy blowups, is thirteen-by-thirteen feet ($300; newyorkinflatables.com). Owner Winfield Prass recommends at least three feet of clearance space on every side. When booking a moon bounce, make sure the company is licensed and insured; the city Department of Consumer Affairs requires that vendors secure a Temporary Amusement-Device License for these types of rides, but it should come at no cost to you.
The Mechanical Bull
Set aside a twenty-by-twenty-foot area if you’re keen to bring in a bucking bronco (generally not safe for kids, of course). Up to three-hour rentals from WOW Entertainment (wowincevents.com) are $1,200, plus $300 for delivery.
The Miniature-Golf Course
Also available from WOW: temporary golf courses, complete with moving windmills and model trains (note: Some obstacles require power). A three-hole course needs at least 600 square feet (from $1,200 plus delivery); a five-hole course, at least 1,250 square feet (from $1,875); and a nine-hole course, at least 2,000 square feet (from $2,700). A registration tent, where employees hand out putters, score cards, pencils, and brightly colored balls, is included in the cost.
Bring in the Noise
Daft Punk or Nigerian funk: Whatever your music of choice, if you want any amplified noise at your block party—even if it’s just an iPod hooked up to a stereo—you should secure a $45 sound-device permit via the NYPD by calling 646-610-5560. Invest in the right equipment, too. “Mini-speakers won’t be loud enough,” says Gary Hoffman, owner of Brooklyn’s 74 Events (74events.com), which hires out D.J.’s for block-party gigs. Rather, bank on two 500-watt speakers per 100 revelers. Noise violations are of little concern—you can only get one if the volume exceeds 85 decibels over ten feet or if you’re blasting music after 10 p.m. (And block parties aren’t supposed to go that late.)
A sampling of gear you can borrow through Party Rental Ltd. (partyrentalltd.com)*
Charcoal grill: $110
Folding chair: from $3.05
Table: from $11
A four-by-four stage: $58**
Dance floor: $41.50/section
Cotton-candy machine: $105
Popcorn machine: $149
Velvet rope/stanchions: $38.50/set
* Prices are for three days; delivery is extra; minimum order is $300.
** Stages taller than two feet and larger than 120 square feet require a structure permit (call the Department of Buildings at 212-566-5000 to arrange).
If You’d Rather Attend Than Host
Free, open-to-the-public block parties.
New Museum Block Party (July 20, noon to 5 p.m.; Chrystie and Stanton Sts.; newmuseum.org): The museum’s annual fest features dance and music performances as well as interactive art projects.
Bushwick Block Party (July 27, noon to 11 p.m.; 261 Moore St., at Bogart St., Bushwick; bushwickblockparty.com): The Roberta’s team presents a Tiki Disco dance party, plus bands.
SculptureCenter Block Party (August 3, noon to 5 p.m.; 44-19 Purves St., nr. Jackson Ave., Long Island City; sculpture-center.org): Live music and artist-led activities define this fête, and this year, the LIC institution is joined by borough-mates the Museum of the Moving Image and the Noguchi.