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4th Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival Reaches New Heights on the Nine

NBA Superstar and Olympic Gold Medalist Dwayne Wade (left) speaks to a crowd of youth regarding anti-violence at the 4th Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival on behalf of his Foundation - Wade's World: Every Child Deserves a Shot at Life.

Ernest Sanders

9.12.2009: The sky was an amazing sky blue and the weather forecast offered no humidity and no chance of rain. This pleasant and ambient backdrop welcomed an estimated 9000 festival-goers to the 4th Annual Auburn Gresham 79th Street Renaissance Festival featuring live music, performances by Jessie White Tumblers and South Shore Drill Team, a Green (eco-friendly) corner, and a “Taste of 79th Street local eateries,” on one of Chicago’s busiest retail corridor and thoroughfare – 79th Street, aka, the Magnificent Nine.

Several youth who participated in Dwayne Wade's Foundation: Every Child Deserves a Shot at Life circled around mable stones of famous African Americans in Renassiance Park at the 4th Annual 79th Renaissance Festival.

Ernest Sanders

Hosted by the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC), the 4th Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival closed down 79th Street for another year between Racine to Loomis Streets. Not only is this business corridor is recognized as magnificent because of local establishments, but it is also home to the Chicago Transit Authority’s (CTA) busiest bus route of more than 145 routes city wide.

Recently the Oprah Winfrey Show took a page from the Auburn Gresham Renaissance Festival play book and closed down a stretch of Michigan Avenue, or the Magnificent Mile to celebrate her show’s 24th season. Fifteen bus routes were diverted during the show’s taping on Michigan Avenue from Wacker Drive to Ohio Street.

The 79th Street Renaissance Festival hosted local leaders as Father Michael Pfleger of Saint Sabina Church, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16), Aldermen Latasha Thomas (D-17) and Howard Brookins (D-21), and State Representative Mary Flowers (D-31).

Cook County President Todd Strogers, talks with Tre the Chocolate Jock at the 79th Street Renaissance Festival.

Ernest Sanders

The Renaissance Festival also welcomed other civic leaders and first time appearances by individuals as Cook County Board President – Todd Stroger, Chicago Southside native and Miami Heat NBA Basketball superstar and Olympian Gold Medalist – Dwayne Wade, and radio personality – Tre The Chocolate Jock of Power 92 Radio.

In a special tribute to youth effected by gun violence, basketball superstar Wade and his foundation – Wade’s World Foundation: Every Child Deserves a Shot a Life, participated in a solemn march with nearly 300 youth and leaders from Auburn Gresham. They proceeded from Saint Sabina Church, through Renaissance Park (a Chicago Park District), to the main stage of the 79th Street Renaissance Festival. Once on the main stage, each leader and Wade offered words of inspiration and prayer to encourage our youth.

A few of Auburn Gresham's priceless gems (our youth) enjoy a Renaissance Portion of Nachos and Cheese from a local eatery at the 4th Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival.

Joel Bookman

The Renaissance Festival also welcomed back for a 2nd year Auburn Gresham hometown favorite and the king of House Music – Farley Jackmaster Funk. Indeed, Farley’s selection of house music and those other performers like Johnny Drummond and the Starliters transcended race and age, as several festival-goers were dancing and discovering moves and muscles not known to themselves.

Our senior citizens were provided free lunches and activities. Our youth were celebrated and honored through free face painting, jumping jacks, fun-filled educational activities and a city wide basketball tournament facilitated by GADC’s partner, In The Paint Basketball.

There were stellar performances by the Jesse White Tumblers and South Shore Drill Team. Festival-goers eagerly awaited their performances and crowded around the main stage to catch a glimpse of their defying leaps, acrobatic stunts, dance moves, and twirling athleticism.

The young men and women of South Shore Drill Team prepare for a performance honoring President Barack Obama and the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, at the 4th Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival.

Aum Mu Ra-El

In all over 100 businesses, organizations, and performers participated in the Renaissance Festival where there was plenty of food, fun, entertainment and dance for all ages.

A very special thanks goes out to all of the sponsors for this year’s Renaissance Festival. They include: Fifth Third Bank, Beverly Bank, Citibank, Ujamaa Construction, LISC/Chicago, Alderman Latasha Thomas (17th Ward), Alderman Howard Brookins (21st Ward), State Senator Jacqueline Collins (D-16), Saint Sabina Church, Quest Development Group LLC, Cleanslate, Recyclable Tech Solutions, Cheryl Johnson and Associates, Urban Gateways, and Special Service Area #32.

We want to pay recognition to the many donors who contributed to the Renaissance Festival. They include: ALDI Foods, Best Buy, Colgate Bright Smiles Bright Futures, Volunteers of America of Illinois, The University of Chicago Pediatric Mobile Unit, American Girl, Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, The Children's Museum, The Chicago Red Stars, Borders Books - North Avenue, The Belden-Stratford Hotel, The Chicago Fire, Rothschilds Liquors, Steve Smith, Global Care Consultants, A.G.A.P.E., Ribs & Fish Unlimited, 79 Food Basket, Island Fish & Chicken, Popeye's, Morrison's Catering, and Momma Love's Food Service.

PiaShante Johnson (L) and Ed Lowemax display a banner supporting Alderman Latasha Thomas (D-17), GADC and the 79th Street Renaissance Festival.

Eunice Carson

Also, we wish to acknowledge our volunteers, especially the Freshman Urban Program Volunteers from Northwestern University, community residents, and Target Area Development Corporation/CEASE Fire for this year’s Renaissance Festival. Without your dedication, this festival would not be possible.

Click here to view a slideshow of the Renaissance Festival and mark your calendars now for our 5th Annual celebration next year on September 11, 2010.

Note: Slideshow Photo Credits: Eunice Carson

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