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Summer Fun: Tips on Holding Summer Community Celebrations

June 19, 2017  by  Flannary Collins
Category:  Administration and Management Streets and Sidewalks

Summer Fun: Tips on Holding Summer Community Celebrations

Summer officially commences on Tuesday, June 20, and a lot of Washington cities and counties take advantage of the lovely Washington summers (fingers crossed for summer 2017) by holding a community celebration. Last year, I wrote a blog post on Summer Celebrations: How to Hold an Event Without Gifting Public Funds; today’s blog post will cover other considerations for summer celebrations, from incorporating sustenance options (tacos! beer! wine! cotton candy!) to managing parade logistics.

Food and Drink

Eating and drinking al fresco is an enjoyable summer pastime, and beer (and wine) gardens plus food vendors at your summer celebration are a great way to provide a fun outdoor dining option.

Alcohol can be sold at community celebrations held in public parks and other public spaces, so long as:

  • A special occasion license is secured from the state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB). (See the LCB’s FAQs on Special Occasion Licenses for more detail.) Or, if an independent vendor is hosting the beer garden, ensure they are licensed to sell alcohol at events. 
  • Local permitting requirements are met (if a local agency permit is required for use of alcohol in public places).

As for selling food at your summer festival, the most essential requirement is that the food vendor obtain a permit from the local health department, as well as a state business license, and any local permit. If your celebration includes food trucks, please visit our “hot off the presses” blog post on Food Truck Laws and Regulations, published just last week.  


Everybody loves a parade, and many municipalities include a parade as part of their summer celebration. Many considerations go into planning a parade, including managing parade participants, traffic control, and crowd safety.

Due to constitutional free speech restrictions, a municipality has limited ability to deny a group from participating in a municipality’s celebratory summer parade. Nevertheless, all participants should be required to submit a parade application form. The form will help with logistics (e.g., where is the staging site? which parade entrant are we?) and minimize agency liability. To that end, the application form should include an indemnification and hold harmless clause, and should require proof of automobile liability insurance, if the participant plans to drive a vehicle in the parade.

Did I say everybody loves a parade? That is, except those trying to get around it in their car! To minimize complaints from the non-parade-goers, take time to develop the traffic detour and street closure plan, and provide plenty of advance notification about traffic impacts. As well, inspect the parade route and sidewalk viewing area and repair any significant hazards such as holes and cracks that could cause injury either to those watching or to those participating.

No doubt, your risk pool will have more risk reduction tips, so check with them before holding your summer celebration.

Finally, MRSC’s page on Special Events Permits can help with development of your vendor and parade participant applications.

Now, let’s go have some summertime fun!

Questions? Comments?

If you have questions about summer community celebrations, parades, or other local government issues, please use our Ask MRSC form or call us at (206) 625-1300 or (800) 933-6772. If you have comments about this blog post or other topics you would like us to write about, please email me.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

About Flannary Collins

Flannary Collins is the Managing Attorney for MRSC. Flannary first joined MRSC as a legal consultant in August 2013 after serving as assistant city attorney for the city of Shoreline where she advised all city departments on a wide range of issues.

At MRSC, Flannary enjoys providing legal guidance to municipalities on all municipal issues, including the OPMA, PRA, and personnel. She also serves on the WSAMA Board of Directors as Secretary-Treasurer.

VIEW ALL POSTS BY Flannary Collins


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