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3rd Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival: A Thriller of an Event

South Shore Drill Team performs on the main stage at the 79th Street Festival to the sounds of Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Aum Mu-Ra

9.13.2008: Hosted by the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC), this festival brought on a perfectly picturesque sunny day and attracted many new and old faces at one of Chicago's largest "neighborhood celebration.”

The festival occupied a portion of 79th Street's main business corridor (Special Service Area #32) between Racine Avenue and Loomis Street and invited several thousand individuals to sample local eateries, learn about pertinent services, and purchase merchandise and other related accessories.

“We are truly blessed to be a part of this community and bring Perfect Peace to our residents,” said Julie Welborn, Co-owner of Perfect Peace Café & Bakery, located near the epicenter of the festival on West 79th Street.

Several youth participate in the 1st Annual 79th Street Auburn Gresham Basketball Tournament.

Eunice Carson

Erica Foreman, Community/External Relations Coordinator for Volunteers of America-Illinois (VOA-IL) echoed similar sentiments. “What an amazing turnout! We are truly grateful to be able to participate is Auburn Gresham’s outreach to advocate and promote quality education for its youth.”  VOA-IL distributed more than 1000 free educational books, book bags, and other related materials to Auburn Gresham youth.  

Mike Robinson, CEO of In the Paint Basketball said he registered more than 250 youth to participate in an Auburn Gresham sponsored basketball tournament. The Resurrection Project, GADC’s sister agency, claimed the championship trophy for ages14-18. The Auburn Gresham team won the championship trophy for ages 9-13.

There are so many other noteworthy stories to tell about the 3rd Annual 79th Street Festival. Stories like Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White’s incredible ability to stand on his head as his tumbling team made leap defying stunts over him, to a special guest appearance by Auburn Gresham native and one of the creators of House Music and original member of the Hot Mix 5 - internationally known, Farley Jackmaster Funk. Farley is also a graduate of the former Calumet High School, now Perspectives Charter Schools-Calumet Campus.

Farley Jackmaster Keith entertains the crowd with a selection of House Music at the 79th Street Renaissance Festival.

Aum Mu-Ra

There was even an ribbon cutting ceremony at Morganway Community Garden and Park of a mural that several Perspectives students designed and painted, and video recorded the entire process. This mural embarks on one of many neighborhood initiatives regarding Auburn Gresham's Quality of Life plan -  "There Is No Unity Without Community." This mural project would not be possible without the leadership of several GADC parnters. They are:

  • GADC’s Litter Free Zone Ambassadors/Summer Interns

The entertainment was a smash and exceptionally plentiful for every age group. Entertainers included: Kendrick Memorial Baptist Choir, Ms. Antoinette Brown (gospel soloist), Mime Gospel Dancers, Mr. Who Say MagiMaster, Mom’s Maybe Impersonator, Perspectives Charter Schools: Calumet Media Lab, The Mike Dangerous Band, Wayne Taylor, Johnny Drummer & the Starliters Band, Spellbinder the Magician, K-Sera, Pathfinders & 80’s Baby’z Chicago Hip-Hop and Rap Artists, Jesse White Tumblers, Alyo-African Dance Group, South Shore Drill Team, Dino Jump, Haunted Trails, Roller Roo, Giggles & Grunt, Tower Hills Stables, Ms. Jane the Clown, Face Painting by Deborah, DJ Big John, In the Paint BasketballPower 92 Radio, and Farley Jackmaster Funk.

Special guests who attended this history-making festival included 17th Ward Alderman Latasha Thomas, 21st Ward Alderman Howard Brookins Jr., State Senator Jacqueline Collins, 6th District Police Commander Eddie Johnson, Father Michael Pfleger of St. Sabina Church, and former 17th Ward Alderman Terry Peterson. 

GADC would like to extend special thanks and appreciation to the following: 17th Ward, 21st Ward, Aum Mu-Ra Photography, Brookfield Zoo, Chicago 21, Chicago Field Museum, Chicago Wilderness,

GADC interns feed their appetites before distributing information about foreclosure prevention.

Aum Mu-Ra

Citibank, Colgate, Cook County Assessor’s Office, Eunice Carson Photography, GADC Volunteers, Faith Community of St. Sabina, Fifth Third Bank, Global Care Consulting Services, LISC/Chicago, Marquette Bank, Neighborhood Housing Services, Northern Trust Bank, Quest Development Group, Soul Food Unlimited, Special Service Area #32, State Senator Jacqueline Collins, Steven Smith, Ujamaa Construction, University of Chicago Pediatric Mobile Van, Urban Gateways, Volunteers of America-Illinois, Walgreens, and Washington Mutual.

The planning has already begun for next year’s festival on Saturday, September 12, 2009. Don’t miss out on Chicago Best Kept Secret. See you there!


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