The house I grew up in was on a Cul-de-sac. I also grew up during a time when you knew your next-door neighbor, your neighbor across the street and your neighbors down the street. This combination transformed holidays like memorial day, July 4th and labor day into major holidays.
I remember the first time we had a block party. We just decided to have a neighborhood party one weekend. It may have been in conjunction with a holiday or long weekend, I don't recall exactly. I remember we made sure we invited the entire neighborhood and checked to make sure everyone approved of us actually having a street gathering. Nobody objected so we actually blocked the street with a couple of vehicles and had a grand time.
Subsequent celebrations were not so formal. We simply gathered in the street and yielded to the unlikely, errant vehicle that might wander through.
I remember on almost any given summer holiday my father would drag our grill from the back porch to the end of the driveway. The Shadley's across the street would do the same. The Keegan's would break out their ice cream maker. It was always a huge pot luck with children playing and laughing, adults charring various forms of meat and carrying on adult small-talk, and four-footed furry family members on the prowl for scraps.
The thing about these block parties was not that there was one or two that were simply epic, there were several that were perfect escapes from the rigors of regular life. The perfect way to leave work at work and school at school and simply let the day be a relaxing celebration in a space that was all ours.