Bella Of The Block Party

By Joan Seedorf

With the arrival of each new season in the city of Chaska, Minn., there are opportunities to gather with neighbors and make community connections! More than 15 years ago, the city established a traveling wagon to assist in developing these connections at neighborhood block parties. Everything needed to make a gathering successful is contained in the wagon.

In The Beginning
The original purchase of this 20-foot enclosed wagon and its contents was made possible through the funding of the local Lions Club. The wagon was designed with custom shelving, hooks, and containers to fit the size and shape of the equipment stored. For many neighborhoods, the wagon has been an annual part of summer gatherings. LeRoy Berg, Crystal Village Town Home Association president, says, “We use the wagon every year, and a great time is always had by all.” 

What’s Inside
The Block Party Wagon contains many practical items, including six banquet tables, 36 folding chairs, barricades, a fire extinguisher, and a 10-gallon beverage cooler. There is also a variety of fun lawn games like ladder golf, bocce ball, croquet, badminton, bean bag toss, and the washer game. The kids love the jump ropes, beach balls, hula hoops, sidewalk chalk, and lots of sport balls! The wagon also contains equipment for traditional competitions like potato-sack races or tug of war. Every year, equipment is replaced and updated to keep up with the latest lawn games and sports. An inventory checklist must be completed to ensure that the wagon is set for the next user the following weekend.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to inventory the equipment before and after the party.

Rules For Use
There is absolutely no cost to use the Block Party Wagon, but to limit the distance of delivery, its use is based on residency. A $200 refundable damage deposit is due at the time of application. If there is damage to the wagon or lost inventory, the damage deposit is used for the replacement costs. The application is then processed, and the wagon is reserved through the Chaska Parks and Recreation Department. The wagon is available May through October—dictated by the Minnesota climate—but this type of wagon could serve other communities year-round. Due to the size of the special hitched vehicle and the issue of liability, it is delivered only by parks and recreation staff members on Friday evenings and picked up on Mondays. It remains parked in the neighborhood for the entire weekend. The expectation is for residents to keep a safe watch on the wagon.

Reserved For Block Parties
The wagon was exclusively designed for neighborhood block parties; therefore, it is not available for special events or private parties, for example, family reunions or graduation parties, but to create a tool that serves as a “mobile” gathering place for neighbors. The community has really embraced this resource and it is used most weekends. Aside from some general wear and tear and loss of minor equipment, the wagon has been easily maintained and is durable. While there is minimal yearly investment, there is a maximum return on making connections!

Joan Seedorf is a Recreation Coordinator for the city of Chaska (Minn.) Parks and Recreation Department and has overseen the Block Party Wagon for the last 14 years. Reach her at jseedorf@chaskamn.com.