News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Summer Festival brings out crowds

East 53rd Street was bustling with people shopping, eating and enjoying live musical performances last weekend, as crowds turned out Saturday and Sunday for the third annual Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival.

Despite an unexpected rainstorm that slowed down the festival for a short while Sunday, about 60,000 people attended the two-day event, according to Wendy Williams, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission, which organizes the festival.

Roy Ayers headlined the event Saturday evening, and the Average White Band performed on the main stage Sunday night.

Several local elected officials attended the festival and took to the stage briefly Sunday evening to greet the crowd, including 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, State Representative Kimberly du Buclet and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. State Senator Donne Trotter attended Saturday.

Friends of Celebrate Hyde Park, which allowed individuals to support the festival and secure a seat close to the main stage with a $100 donation, was a new addition to this year’s festival and was well-received.

“Friends of Celebrate Hyde Park was a big success, with dozens of people choosing to support this and future festivals on 53rd Street,” Williams said.

The Celebrate Hyde Park festival series was designed to attract consumers to East 53rd Street as several sites on the street undergo construction as part of revitalization efforts. The Hyde Park Vitality Committee kicked off the first festival three years ago, with key sponsorship from the SECC, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and UChicago’s Office of Civic Engagement.

Crowd gathers on 53rd Street for Roy Ayers’ performance June 30.

Festival-goers enjoy the show.

Face painting was among several featured children’s activities.

Dozens of vendors displayed their wares on 53rd.

Wendy Williams speaks to the crowd from the main stage.