Downtown Crossing Block Parties Ring in Summer

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Posted May 17, 2013 by Emily Mahlman in Downtown Boston
Summer Returns to Summer Street

Even years out of college, the approach of summer still makes me as giddy as when it was synonymous with no homework, longer days, and warm nights. Although I now claim to be an adult, the idea of spending summer nights in the dark corner of an Irish pub enjoying after-work drinks seems almost sacrilegious. It’s almost summer! We should be outside doing cartwheels in the backyard or catching lightning bugs. And last year, I discovered the urban adult equivalent of that: Downtown Crossing Block Parties.

One night last year, on my walk home, I wandered into one of these Thursday night block parties and immediately thought, “This is what summer is all about”: dancing (or, in my case, bouncing) to live music with a cold beer. Hundreds of Bostonians seem to have the same idea and flock to Summer Street for these free events every week, from late spring to early fall. With music filling the air and drinks in hand, the block parties make you feel as if you’re in a beer garden with one hundred of your closest friends.

Bostonians are notorious for being on the aloof side, but people at the block party were open and friendly. I chatted with partygoers while bopping along to reggae music, and shared a picnic table with another group. Many folks worked downtown and, like me, stumbled upon the party. For others, though, it was their destination for the evening.

I returned to the block parties with friends several more times that summer to sip cold Rolling Rocks, nibble on fare from local restaurants (this year, courtesy of 49 Social), and listen to local bands. The beer selection has changed this year, boasting Sapporo, Narragansett Summer, and Woodchuck Cider, along with a red and white from Wicked Wine. Traditional happy hours have been banned in Massachusetts since 1984, so the Downtown Crossing Block Parties may be as close as we ever get to drink deals in this city. The events only hold a liquor license to serve between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m., so the low price is not considered a “discount” and therefore not against the law.

Hot Like Fire

Reggae band Hot Like Fire will be back this year. Photo curtesy of Crash Line Productions

While the band lineup is not set through the entire summer, local cover band Swinging Johnsons and reggae favorites Hot Like Fire will be entertaining crowds for the first half of the season. And, as I learned last year, there is just something about reggae that makes it feel like summer! Hot Like Fire will be playing this week to kick off the season, and I’ll be there, too—if not dancing, at least bouncing around.

The Downtown Crossing Block Parties are held on Summer Street every Thursday from 5 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. through early fall. For more information, visit Downtown Boston BID’s website.

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