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The Downtown Block Party, one of Iowa City’s biggest annual events, has been canceled

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Downtown Block Party patrons dance at the silent disco. June 24, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The Iowa City Downtown District (ICDD) announced on Friday it has decided to cancel this summer’s Downtown Block Party. The fourth annual event was scheduled for June 27.

The Block Party is one of ICDD’s most successful programs, attracting tens of thousands of visitors every year. Last summer, 42,000 people came out for an evening of concerts, games (including a pop-up basketball court, sand volleyball court and roller skating rink), silent disco dancing, food and drink specials, a break-dancing competition and other free entertainment — all within 12 sectioned-off downtown blocks, where adults 21 and over could drink alcohol from plastic event cups.

But the raging success of the Downtown Block Party is precisely the reason ICDD believes it’s unsafe to carry on with the event in 2020.

“In order to prioritize the health and well being of our community, we at the Iowa City Downtown District are tweaking and redefining our events,” ICDD Board President Mary Kate Pilcher Hayek and Executive Director Nancy Bird said in a statement. “… While a gathering of this size is not a safe option this year, we envision multiple, tailored events, with more open space, occurring throughout the summer. In fact, that’s the approach to all of our events this summer — smaller-scale events that connect the community and our members.”

Volunteers hand out wristbands and cups to 21+ patrons of the Downtown Block Party. June 24, 2017. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

Pilcher and Bird said they don’t anticipate canceling any other events on the district’s calendar (which includes Gallery Walks beginning June 5, Sidewalk Sales from July 16-19, the Farm to Street Dinner on Aug. 15 and Taste of Iowa City on Aug. 26). Their 2020 Shop Crawl, scheduled for Friday, May 15, will be held virtually.

To stay up to date on the new, “smaller-scale events” ICDD is organizing, follow the district on Facebook, or subscribe to their newsletter.


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