Noche en Blanco — or White Night — a pop-up dinner on a downtown street for the past five years has been canceled this year.
The fun dinner event, modeled after efforts in Paris and New York, began in downtown Tucson in 2012 with 200 participants.
Last year, the community dinner attracted more than 3,000 people and was expected to do the same this year, said architect Corky Poster, one of the organizers. This year it was to take place on South Stone Avenue, near the Tucson police station.
However, it is not happening Oct. 8, said Poster, citing police concerns for security and public safety, and a change in the city attorney’s interpretation and enforcement of liquor laws and the need for the organization to apply for a permit to allow alcohol consumption at the event.
He explained how the event takes place. There is a core committee of 20 members, and each of those members fills a table of eight with their own invited guests. Each member then picks several additional table captains who fill up their tables of eight with guests. Through this network, said Poster, the event grew over the years, attracting over 3,000 to the community celebration.
Participants — who all dress in white — bring food, tables, chairs and tableware. They also bring drinks, including wine to be served during dinner. All participants clean up, leaving no trash when the event ends. The event is for fun, not to raise money or for a cause.
In past years, Poster said the organizers met with city workers a week before the event and finalized all documents, including permits to barricade streets and insurance obligations. He said organizers were informed this year that “if we serve liquor then people would be issued a citation.” The Tucson Police Department raised concern this year about allowing the event to take place without a liquor permit, according to an email to Poster from Mike Rankin, the city attorney.
“Even if we made it a dry event, with that many people, a whole bunch of people would not view it as a dry event. … We did not want to risk citations,” said Poster. “We will try again next year with the proper permit,” he said.
Lane Mandle, a city spokeswoman, said organizers did apply for a street closure permit, but that permit does not permit alcohol consumption. “We explained they needed a special event liquor license with their permit, which would require going to the mayor and council, but they did not apply for the special event liquor permit in time,” Mandle said.
“We can’t allow some 2,000 people in the middle of Stone (Avenue) to drink with no liquor law permit,” said Mandle.
Among options suggested to the organizers of the Noche en Blanco pop-up dinner, said Mandle, was reserving a park, such as Armory, with the potential of folding in an adjoining street, and getting a beer permit.
However, Poster said he did not see that as an option because he believed there would be participants who would bring wine and become subjected “to the embarrassment of a citation.”
Organizers urged those who had planned to attend the pop-up dinner to plan their own “mini-noche” on Sunday at their home or outdoors in their yards or patios and post photos at #Nocheenblancotucson2017.