Park Permit FAQs

Frequently asked questions about park permits.

What type of events require a park permit?

A Parks Permit is intended for Cambridge residents using parks and public areas for small (non-athletic) events such as birthday parties, picnics, etc. with no grilling/cooking, alcohol, amusement rides, animals, fireworks, live music, etc.  In most instances, the permit is secured in order to reserve table & seating areas. The park still remains open to the public.

Who is able to obtain a park permit?

Cambridge Park Permits are only available to Cambridge residents, businesses and organizations. At least 50% of the participants at an event must be residents of Cambridge. Cambridge-based companies sponsoring requests for permits must certify that all participants are employed by and on the payroll of the company/industry.

What is the cost of a park permit?

A park permit cost $25.00.  Payment is due at the time of the application.

What is the payment process of the park permit application fees?

Online transactions can be paid for by credit card (MasterCard and Discover), debit card (MasterCard) and electronic check (“E-check”). In person transactions can be paid for by cash, check, credit card (MasterCard and Discover) and debit card (MasterCard). Convenience fees will apply to all credit card, debit card and E-check payments whether in-person or online. There is no convenience fee for payments made by cash or check. Please visit the Business Service website for full details about payments and convenience fees.

How far in advance do I need to reserve a park?

Residents are encouraged to reserve a park at least 2 weeks in advance of their event.

How can I find out if a park is available before I complete the online park permit application?

Applicants are encouraged to contact Annette Rodibaugh, Operations Manager, to see if a park is available to reserve on the date/time they have in mind.  Our online application system does not currently have the ability to show available dates/times.

Where can I get a full list of parks in Cambridge?

The Community Development Department maintains a map with information about all Parks in Cambridge. Their map also includes parks owned by the State or Federal government; contact information for those agencies is provided, as the City cannot provide permits for the use of non-City parks.

What does it mean that a park must remain open to the general public, even if I obtain a park permit?

By getting a Park Permit, our staff will be notified to clean the park and empty little barrels the day before and after your event. You are also assured that your event meets all applicable laws and regulations. You will also be given priority use of specific sections of a park (for the most part, this covers use of tables and seating areas where you may want to serve refreshments). You are not, however, allowed to turn other people who are not part of your event away from the Park.

If I get a park permit and then decide not to have an event, can I give my park permit to someone else?

Park permits are not transferable.

Can I grill in the park?

No, grilling is not permitted in Cambridge parks with the exception of Danehy Park.

How do I reserve Danehy Park?

Please visit the Recreation Department website.

What if I want to serve food?

You are permitted to bring prepared food and beverages.  However, grilling and alcohol is not permitted in City parks.

Can I set up a tent in the park?

Use of tents require a permit issued by the Inspectional Services Department with a sign-off from the Fire Department verifying flame certificate rating for tent fabric.  (This is typically handled by tent vendor).  This request should be made at the time a park permit application is completed.  Permitted tents must be secured with water bags, sandbags, or concrete blocks only; use of stakes is prohibited.

What if I want to have a bounce-house, live entertainment, petting zoo or pony rides at my event in the park?

These types of amusements require additional licenses through the License Commission.  We suggest that you complete the Special Event Application if you wish to have amusements at your event.

Can I host a wedding in a City park?

Many people host wedding ceremonies in City parks each year, particularly in Longfellow Park and Lechmere Canal Park.  This process is permitted through the Park Permit Application.  However, if you also want to hold the "reception" in the park, please be advised that alcohol is not permitted in City parks, and food preparation, music, and tents will require additional licenses.

Can I have a yard sale in a City park?

No, the City of Cambridge does not permit vending of any kind in City parks.

Can I reserve a field or court for an athletic event?

If you would like information regarding athletic field permits (required for use of any City of Cambridge athletic field), please visit the Recreation Department website.

What sort of activities are not permitted under the parks permit?

Use of alcohol, drugs, firearms, fireworks, explosives, littering, animals, making fires, (cooking), undue noise, public nuisances, disturbing the peace, soliciting, loitering, and destruction of property are not permitted at any time.

How can I get assistance or information about the park permit application process?

Please contact Annette Rodibaugh, Operations Manager & Special Event Committee Coordinator, and she will be happy to guide you through the process.

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Dept of Public Works

147 Hampshire St
Cambridge MA 02139

Phone:617.349.4800
TDD:617.499.9924

Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

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