December 6, 2023

Food City

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Block Party, a ‘thank you’ to the Fifth Ward, was a big hit

Connections for the Homeless brought a double dose of community camaraderie to the Fifth Ward Saturday with a two-part block party attended by several hundred people.

The block party featured two huge bouncy houses, a slew of community organizations, plus other activities. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

“And today’s the day when it came to life,” said Nia Tavoularis, Director of Development and Communications for Connections for the Homeless, the local non-profit.

A Celebration of Our Neighbors was a community gathering a year in the making. It was a thank you from Connections to the Fifth Ward community and all of the neighbors who have helped keep the organization going for 37 years.

A community volunteer paints the face of a little girl. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

“Family Fest” took place from noon to 4 p.m. at Foster Field and included free catered food from Curt’s Cafe and Jennifer’s Edibles, pony rides, bouncy houses and live gospel performances from local talent such as Evanston Sings and Bessie Simmons. Fifteen community partners, including the YMCA, Girl Scouts Evanston and the League of Women Voters, were also there. 

“This location is great because it’s in the heart of the Fifth Ward. Everybody knows it. We knew that we would get lots of traffic from people driving by,” Tavoularis said. 

Three hours after that party closed down, the second celebration, for adults only, started at Double Clutch Brewing Company, featuring live bands and food trucks from 7 to 11 p.m.

A llama was part of Saturday’s pop-up petting zoo at Foster Field. Credit: Debbie-Marie Brown

The event was co-chaired by City Council member Bobby Burns, Fifth Ward, Chef Q Ibraheem, DJ Corey Bless and Jenni Suvari. “They’re the ones who helped us get it off the ground,” Tavoularius added.  

Bless, a longtime Fifth Ward resident, produced all of the entertainment as well as getting many of the vendors. The day’s party lineup at Foster Field was all about gospel, inspiration and gospel rap. Later at Double Clutch Brewing, Bless selected entertainers who perform funk, country and soul jazz.