WATERTOWN — The block parties along Public Square are on.
City officials have given the go-ahead for the Watertown Local Development Corp. to close off the north side of Public Square and host three block parties on Friday nights this summer.
CEO Donald W. Rutherford heard the news on Thursday during a meeting of the Citizens Advisory Board, a group of community and business leaders who meet monthly to discuss city issues.
“Donny, you’re good to go,” Mayor Joseph M. Butler Jr. told Mr. Rutherford.
He was a bit surprised with the mayor’s announcement, since he had been waiting for the city to get back to him about getting permission for the block parties. He still would like to receive more formal written notification from the city.
Billed as “a friendly family event,” the block parties will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. on June 30, July 28 and Aug. 25.
“It’s going to bring people into downtown,” he said, “and give some exposure to businesses downtown.”
Plans call for local bands to perform, the sale of food and beverages, a children’s play area, adult games, businesses selling their products and other entertainment.
In wanting to ease possible worries, Mr. Rutherford said the group will take great care in the way alcohol is sold during the three events.
A core of volunteers are organizing the block parties. A committee meeting is scheduled to be held today.
Mayor Butler said he and all four council members supported the idea for the block parties.
“Why not see how it goes?” Mayor Butler said.
Now that the city has agreed to the events, Mr. Rutherford said the group has to get contracts signed with the bands, food and beverage vendors and others. Last month, the local development corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust, authorized a $12,000 budget for the block parties.
City Manager Sharon A. Addison said “a lot of details” still have to be worked out with the group. Volunteers have to provide more definitive plans on closing the road, about how security will provided, making sure they get state approval for serving alcohol and providing the layout of the activities at the site.
If they are popular, organizers are already talking about expanding the events with a craft fair and other activities in the J.B. Wise parking lot.
More than 25 years ago, Public Square hosted similar events. Known as the “Party in the Square,” those block parties were held, for a time, at the former site of the Woodruff Hotel along the square, near the apex of Arsenal and Court streets and on Arcade Street.