There is undoubtedly a sense of anticipation in the air this year. Not only will Great Britain show the world in 2012 how to stage the world's biggest sporting event in style, but boy will we show them how to party!
We are lucky enough to have a Royal history and heritage that is the envy of other nations, and can do pomp and circumstance like no other. The Queen's Diamond Jubilee once again gives us the opportunity to celebrate not just the affection we have for Elizabeth R, not only admiration for the sixty years she has so tirelessly represented the United Kingdom worldwide, but to demonstrate that through thick and thin we stick together as a nation unlike any other.
So, bring out the bunting and get your street party underway. Croydon Council has issued a comprehensive set of guidelines keeping things as simple and free of red tape as possible. The Council will cover the cost of closing roads and supplying road closure signs, saving streets' residents around £1000, but there are certain procedures you need to follow.
First, get the neighbours involved in your Jubilee celebrations! All residents need to be notified and you can access an invitation form on the Council's website, which also gives your neighbours the opportunity to volunteer to help out. There can be a fair amount of work involved and many hands will definitely make light work. If you set up a 'committee' best to ensure everyone knows what their responsibilities are, and try to avoid too many chiefs!
If you are intending to close your road in order to stage your Jubilee street party then you will need to gain permission, and this request is incorporated in the Party Event form. It would be wise to have a strategy in place and a person responsible in the event that the emergency services need to gain access during the course of your party. If your refuse collection falls on the day you intend staging your street party, the road will need to remain open until 10.00am.
If you are concerned that your road may not be suitable for a street party, then there are certain parks and open spaces in Croydon that are able to be utilised for Jubilee events. You will not need permission or be charged for an 'open space party' providing you do not intend to sell alcohol or food, use a barbeque, stage live music, or erect a marquee or bouncy castle. You are not allowed to consume alcohol in Croydon's parks. Again, more details are available on the Council's website.
Most street parties held will be classed as private parties, i.e., not open to the general public and not widely advertised beforehand. Sharing drinks with your neighbours is fine as you would only need a licence if you intend to sell alcohol. You are permitted to use your BBQ in the street, although it is obviously advisable to carefully assess the potential risks when deciding where to site it... bear in mind that there is likely to be a significant number of over-excited youngsters weaving their way between tables, chairs and peoples' legs!
There are no restrictions on the start and finish time of your party, but consideration should be given to elderly or very young neighbours. A thoroughly enjoyable day can be ruined by those noisy stragglers who just don't know when to stop. If there are a bunch of you wanting to party until 5am, take it indoors and keep the volume down!
The traditional street party sees a loooooong table, and chairs, all the way down the street. It would be an idea to contact local school, community centres etc to see whether they would be able to lend or hire these. Alternatively you will need to get together with the neighbours well in advance to arrange potential seating, with pasting tables probably being the best fit for purpose option.
Personally I think the secret to a successful street party is to keep it simple and light-hearted - this is no time to be keeping up with the Jones's!! I would also think very carefully before you decide to introduce fireworks, as at least one adult will need to remain completely sober! Similarly, as pretty as Chinese lanterns may look as they sail on high, the combination of tissue paper, naked flames, children and revellers may not be a good one.
And finally, don't forget the clean-up operation. Once the road is re-opened access will need to be unobstructed and clear of any stray pork pies!
So bring out the bunting, fly the flag and start preparing for a Street Party to remember!
You will need to complete the Online Party Event form on the Croydon Council website, where you can also find a wealth of additional advice and information. Alternatively, call 020 8726 6000. Forms need to be submitted by the 4th May 2012.