Host a Special Event in Kalamazoo
In addition to hosting a variety of special events throughout the year, many city parks are avaiable to host your picnic, party, or event! You can find out which ammenities are available in city parks on the Parks page and learn more about how to host a special event in the City of Kalamazoo below.
Special Events are defined as events of general public interest, of temporary duration, and open to the public in a non-discriminatory manner. If your event falls under this description and you request use of City property for your event, it is a “Special Event” that falls under the City Commission’s Special Event Policy.
To apply to host a special event within the City of Kalamazoo, please review the information below to familiarize yourself with the application process, requirements, timeline, fees, and other considerations. Complete the application below and return it with any necessary payment to the Kzoo Parks Office at Mayors’ Riverfront Park (251 Mills St). Include the application for a temporary structure and application to serve alcohol if necessary.
Special Event Request and Approval
1. Review the Considerations for Event Planning Below
Before beginning, please review the considerations for event planning listed below. This will provide information about approval, timelines, food & beverages, use of streets & sidewalks, use of tents & structures, and other valuable information. This will help you to prepare and submit your application.
2. Complete and Submit Event Application, Application Fee, and Submit Other Applications if Necessary
Complete and submit the form Request for Use of City Property for a Public Event and pay the appropriate non-refundable application fee. You may attach additional information about your event. If you are requesting use of city streets or sidewalks for a parade, walk or march, a complete description of the proposed route and a map should be included with the request form. No park/street will be tentatively reserved, and no Special Event request will be processed without payment of this fee. City parks/streets are available for Special Events on a first come/first serve basis. To find out what amenities or services are available at various parks, please contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 337-8191.
3. Application Review
Once the Parks and Recreation Department receives your request form and application fee, we will circulate the form to various City departments for recommendations and fee estimates. If there are concerns or questions about your event, you may be contacted for more information or clarification. Estimates of Special Event Fees are based on the Special Event Fee Schedule adopted by the City Commission each January. Departments have the right to determine the amount of resources required to service your event (for example, the number of barricades needed to block off streets for a parade route).
When all necessary City departments have submitted their recommendations and fee estimates, the Parks and Recreation Department will submit your request to the City Manager’s Office for approval.
4. Approval Notice to Event Organizers
After the City Manager or his designee approves your request, you will receive notification of the approval, which will include an estimate of fees and an explanation of any additional requirements.
If you have any questions about specific City services, please contact the Special Event Coordinator at 337-8191.
Considerations for Event Planning
Before submitting an application, please take a moment to review the information below. This well help avoid delays in reviewing your application or its approval.
A Special Event request generally takes between one and two months to process. The factors that influence this timeframe include: the time it takes to receive recommendations from city departments; the next scheduled meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board (which meets on the first Tuesday of each month); and staff concerns or questions about a Special Event. Requests should be submitted at least 60 days in advance of your event, but please understand that this minimum amount of time for processing will result in you receiving notice of approval only one or two weeks prior to the event. Please take this timeframe into consideration when planning your event, especially as it relates to signing service contracts, lining up sponsors, and developing a marketing plan.
If you, the sponsor, intend to serve or sell food at your event or to allow vendors to sell/serve food, this needs to be indicated on the request form. In addition, you will need to contact the County Health Department regarding sanitary regulations, inspections, and permits. The use of LP Gas and/or an open flame for food preparation is subject to inspection by the City’s Fire Marshal or his designee and must be done in compliance with Chapter 15 of the Kalamazoo City Code (Fire Prevention and Protection) and The International Fire Code (2003 edition). The event organizer should contact the Fire Marshal to verify the need for, and to schedule, and inspection (337-8285). Food preparation in Bronson Park is prohibited. South and Academy Streets, when officially closed to traffic, are the designated areas for food preparation at Bronson Park events.
In order to serve alcohol at an event in a City park the applicant needs to submit a separate Agreement for Serving Alcohol at City of Kalamazoo Parks. This request will be processed concurrently with the Request to Use Public Property for a Public Event. The organizer will also need to apply for a special liquor license from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC). NOTE: only non-profit organizations can apply for and receive special liquor licenses from the MLCC.
Depending on the type of activities at an event, the City’s Risk Manager may require proof of liability insurance. The type of insurance that is required is CSL General Liability Insurance in the amount of at least $1 million naming the City of Kalamazoo, its agents, employees, and officials as additionally insured. If alcohol will be served, Liquor Liability coverage will also be required. If you have questions about the City’s insurance requirements, contact Clyde Robinson, the City’s Risk Manager, at 337-8185.
Tents & Shelters
Temporary structures that cover an area in excess of 120 square feet (11.16 m2), including connecting areas or spaces with a common means of egress or entrance which are used or intended to be used for the gathering together of 10 or more persons, shall not be erected, operated or maintained for any purpose without obtaining a permit from the City’s building official. This permit is obtained through the Community Planning and Development Department (337-8026).
Please review the Guidelines for Tents for requirements.
Use of Parks
If the City approves use of a park, you will have exclusive use of the specified park for the time and date specified. “Exclusive use” means use of all park amenities (water, electricity, restrooms, picnic shelters, band shells, trails) without interference from other groups. You may charge and collect fees for food and beverages, goods and services, and participation in event activities, if so indicated on your application. However, you may not restrict access to City parks or charge a fee to park at or enter a City park.
Use of Streets
Parades, marches, and footraces that use city streets are the most costly events due the barricade rental fees and overtime hours for Public Services and Public Safety employees. Depending on the anticipated number of participants, an alternative to using city streets is for participants to stay on the sidewalks and obey all traffic signals. This type of march/walk does not incur charges beyond the application fee. If the estimated size of your group will be too large for city sidewalks, the Traffic Engineer will require street or lane closures. With the exception of some specific venues in the Central Business District, the City will not close Major Streets for events where the sole purpose of the closure is to create a special event area (i.e., an area for gathering, food preparation, vendor exhibits, etc…)
Special Event Fees
Park use fees should be paid at least two weeks prior to your event. Actual costs for Public Safety and Public Services staff overtime, signage, and barricades will be billed to you following the event.
Depending on the size and location of your event and the activities taking place at your event, City staff may require the submission of additional information and documentation: a) the Fire Marshal may require you to identify one or more Fire Watch Personnel. b) the Public Safety Department may require submission of a Public Safety Plan that addresses emergency vehicle ingress and egress; fire protection; emergency medical services; public assembly areas and the direction of both attendees and vehicles (including the parking of vehicles); vendor and food concession distribution; and the need for the presence of law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services personnel. c) the Parks and Recreation Department may require submission of a site plan showing how you intend to set-up your event.
- Holidays/Holiday weekends will be automatically denied (due to staffing constraints during these days). These include New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day.
- Block Parties must take place between 8am and 5pm with cleanup finished by 6pm.
Applications & Forms
If you are ready to submit an application for your event, please complete the application form below along with other forms or documentation that may be necssary. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact the Kzoo Parks office at (269) 337-8191.