It’s that time of year again — the dog days of summer, but also time for a couple hundred block parties all at once.
Denver Days is an initiative that was started by Mayor Michael Hancock back in 2013 to create a dedicated time for Denver residents to take to the streets and get to know the people in their neighborhood. The celebration, now in its sixth year, takes place August 4-12 this year.
“It’s really just such a nice feeling to go to these Denver Days events” said Grace López Ramírez, executive director of the Denver’s Office of Neighborhood Engagement. “It really is a program to build stronger neighborhoods and get people to work together and just enjoy each other, and enjoy the neighborhood parks.”
As we all know, the streets are usually used as streets. But for Denver Days activities, the city helps residents shut down streets in favor of neighborhood-wide fiestas by waiving fees typically associated with street closures and providing the barricades needed to keep cars out and get parties started.
Park Hill resident Porshai Campbell said Denver Days creates the perfect opportunity for her neighbors to enjoy a little sunshine and a lot of good company. She’s a member and education leader at the Park Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church, and is looking forward to their 2nd annual Interfaith commUnity Festival, which attracted over 500 hundred guests in its inaugural year.
The event was founded by her pastor, Robert Davis, and Brother Ali, a leader at a mosque across the street, to create an avenue for healthy dialogue in the community.
“It was a bridge to having these conversations, inviting them to the event and sharing our resources,” Campbell said. “We learned even more about businesses in the community and gifts and talents that people have.”
She said she feels like Denver Days has a special place in Park Hill, because of the neighborhood’s historical legacy and rapidly changing environment.
“When the neighborhood changes it’s important to have conversations to help people know who their neighbors are,” she said.
She believes that the contacts people make at the party can help fight the prejudices and preconceived notions people often have when they are dealing with the unknown, like new neighbors from cultures they may be less familiar with. And that might be true at many of the parties across the city.
“Every year we have approximately 200 events,” Ramírez said. “We’re At 220 this year, and we still have registrations coming in.”
If you want to throw a party of your own, you have up until the end of the day this Monday, August 6, to turn in any applications that require street closures. But you can request permits for things like picnics in the park up until 24 hours before your event starts.
“What we have seen year after year with Denver days is that residents get so creative with the type of events they can do,” Ramírez said, adding that the city is open to a variety of different ideas. She also said that many of these events have turned into year-round activities in communities like regular alley and park cleanups.
For the Park Hill event, they’ll be blocking off Albion Street from M.L.K. Jr. Boulevard to 35th Street on Sunday, August 5 for a party with vendors, free food, a bouncy house, a kids zone, and a fried fish station — you have to pay for that, but it’s super worth it, trust me. They’ll be out there from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. that evening.
There’s a full list of Denver Days events here.