Opera Alley in downtown Tacoma will be transformed into a street fair like no other on Saturday.
From 3 to 10 p.m., the third annual Tacoma Block Party will be brimming with fun activities and unexpected excitement.
"Two things that jump out at me for this year is the atmosphere and the interactive aspect," says Justin Mayfield, the event's organizer.
Mayfield and a devoted team of volunteers, together with Local Life, a nonprofit committed to promoting holistic collaborations, and Downtown Tacoma Neighbors, have come together to offer this free event for the community.
"When you walk into the block party, it's not going to be your typical fair," says Mayfield. "It's going to beg you to move, paint, groove, talk to your neighbors - it's going to be intoxicating."
Mayfield says the décor will play off last year's theme of parachutes and umbrellas but will include new adornments. There will be impromptu live music on stage and a variety of activities for partygoers to do.
More than 50 activities are planned for this year's event.
One creative activity is Operation Art, a take on the game Operation (like when you were a kid, says Mayfield). The bodies of one boy and one girl will be painted on a wall. Participants will spin to determine what body part to throw a paint-filled balloon at.
Another event is Downtown Is... People will have the chance to artfully display their idea of what downtown is, or should be, on past issues of the Weekly Volcano (hey, we're good for something). The papers will then be threaded together and put on exhibit.
More interactive elements include the construction of a giant yarn ball made of old linens that will be torn into strips, a giant life-size chess board with two-feet tall pieces and an organized community mural.
There will also, of course, be food, such as Puget Sound Pizza and popsicles from Hilltop Pop Shop, but even the food options have an interactive twist, with a D.I.Y peanut butter and jelly stand.
The whole event will culminate in a dance party complete with DJ. There is also a beer and wine garden for attendees 21 and older.
Mayfield says the community response has been very encouraging and business participation has been excellent. Fifteen downtown businesses are involved in this year's event.
"We want to have a place to celebrate downtown, a place where we live, work and play, and to encourage others to do the same," Mayfield says. "We want to make the world a better place, one neighborhood at a time."
(Tacoma Block Party, Opera Alley; St. Helens between South 9th and Market Streets; and Ben Gilbert Park. 3 to 10 p.m.)