News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Celebrate Hyde Park

Crowds Turn Out for Family Stone, Funkadesi, and Fun on 53rd Street

The 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival drew about 30,000 people to 53rd Street on July 20 and 21 for two days of live performances, food and fun.

Entertainment included headlining bands The Family Stone and Funkadesi, along with local favorites and startups such as Chicago Catz, Jemiah on Fire, Andrea McNeal, and Terisa Griffin. Festivalgoers enjoyed the music while dancing in the street, relaxing in the park, or enjoying a meal at outdoor tables along the street.

Here are a few photos from Sunday, July 21.


The Family Stone to Headline 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival, July 20 and 21

The Family Stone, whose hits include 1960s' and '70s' tunes “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and “I Want to Take You Higher,” will headline the 2013 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Music Festival, a yearly event filled with music, food, and fun on 53rd Street.

The fourth annual music festival will be held on Saturday, July 20, and Sunday, July 21, and will welcome both first-time and returning attractions.

“The Summer Music Festival has come to be known for its celebration of iconic music and performers as well as its celebration of the rich culture of the South Side of Chicago,” said Wendy Williams, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission, which organizes the festival on behalf of the Hyde Park Vitality Committee. “This year, we again look forward to bringing music lovers in Hyde Park a great mix of performers whose styles include soul, funk, reggae, and R&B.”

Saturday’s lineup will feature Chicago’s very own Funkadesi, known for its diverse band members and award-winning musical performances, along with Rockin' Johnny Blues Band. On Sunday, the Chicago Cats and Terisa Griffin will return to the stage before The Family Stone's evening concert.

Great music is not all this festival will offer—plenty of delicious food and an assortment of merchandise from local vendors will be available.

“Past festivals have brought tens of thousands of people to Hyde Park’s main commercial corridor, and this year’s attendees will find that the neighborhood has even more to offer, with several new businesses now open or coming soon on the street,” said Wallace Goode, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

Since 2011, more than 20 new businesses have opened or announced plans to open on 53rd Street. Read more about places to taste, shop, and play on 53rd Street.

The festival will be held on 53rd Street between Harper and Kimbark Avenues, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is open to the public, with a $5 requested donation. A limited amount of VIP seating is available at Saturday and Sunday evening concerts for $50 per seat. To reserve a spot online visit

The Celebrate Hyde Park series is sponsored by the Hyde Park Vitality Committee, a partnership between the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and the South East Chicago Commission, with additional support from the Chicago Park District-Nichols Park. 

For more information, visit or text CHP to 72727 for festival update.

3rd Annual Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest Adds Second Day, Children's Book Fair; October 6 and 7

The annual Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest will return to 53rd Street this year as a bigger, more family-friendly event, adding a second day of musical performances and including a popular Children’s Book Fair in the lineup of youth activities.

The 2012 festival will be held Saturday, October 6, and Sunday, October 7, and will feature Chicago-area performers, including Dave Matthews tribute band the Trippin Billies and R&B artists Chicago Catz. The extra day is expected to boost festival attendance from about 9,000 people in 2011 to 15,000 - 20,000 this year.

As part of the Celebrate Hyde Park festival series, Oktoberfest is designed to attract people to the fast-growing 53rd Street retail corridor. The festivals are sponsored by the Hyde Park Vitality Committee, which includes the University of Chicago as the lead festival sponsor, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, and the South East Chicago Commission, among others.

“Three years ago, we set out with a mission to help bring people of all ages to 53rd Street for fun and entertainment,” said Wendy Williams, executive director of the SECC, which organizes the festival. “Today, Oktoberfest and other Celebrate Hyde Park festivals have become widely anticipated community events and a significant part of the cultural offerings of the neighborhood.”

In addition to musical performances, scheduled activities include a beer garden for adults and a pumpkin patch, parade, pony rides and other entertainment for children—all for a suggested donation of $5. Food and retail vendors also will line 53rd Street from Dorchester to Kimbark Avenues. Children’s activities will be held in Nichols Park, adjacent to 53rd. Festival hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

New home for former 57th Street Children’s Book Fair

Among the activities in Nichols Park will be the Children’s Book Fair, which previously had been held on 57th Street in Hyde Park for 25 years. A new addition to Oktoberfest, the book fair will include author appearances and book signings as well as books for purchase. The fair will be open from 1 – 6 p.m. both days on the south end of Nichols Park, near 55th and Kimbark.

“Oktoberfest continues to get bigger and better,” said Wallace Goode, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. “The mix of entertainment and vendor offerings attracts people from both surrounding neighborhoods and other parts of the city and provides an opportunity for local businesses to show what they have to offer.”

For access to the Celebrate Hyde Park mobile app and for updates on Oktoberfest, text CHP to 72727.

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.

Oktoberfest a Hit

More than 5,000 people packed 53rd Street and Nichols Park during the second annual Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest. Several area food, jewelry, clothing and a host of additional vendors were on hand to greet the crowd and introduce their products to festival visitors.

"We are excited about the continued outpouring of support from the entire community as we continue to strengthen our Celebrate Hyde Park festivals," said Wendy Walker Williams, Executive Director of the South East Chicago Commission. "We are already beginning to prepare for next summer's huge event and welcome input from the community, civic organizations and leaders to help us make our festival series a major destination for the South Side of Chicago."

Celebrate Hyde Park events are a series of festivals that occur throughout the year to showcase the Hyde Park community. The events are designed to bring people of all ages to 53rd Street and Nichols Park to enjoy a wide variety of entertainment, products and food from the many local shops, restaurants and musical talent in the community.

The Celebrate Hyde Park festival series is sponsored by the Hyde Park Vitality Committee, a partnership between the University of Chicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, the South East Chicago Commission and various other area organizations.

Anyone interested in volunteering for next year’s Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival can call the South East Chicago Commission at 773.324.6926. Ideas to enhance the festival experience are also welcomed.

Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival Hits 53rd Street

Back by popular demand, the '70s iconic band WAR will headline the second annual Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival set for this weekend. This year’s line up also includes the legendary Roy Ayers who will take center stage Saturday evening.

The festival, which takes place from 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday along 53rd Street, is free and open to the public. A variety of restaurants, vendors and entertainment venues will be on hand throughout the two-day event. Children’s activities are from noon – 4 p.m. in Nichols Park.

Check out the festival schedule here.

Save the Date…This Saturday!

Come on out this Saturday for “Brunch with Santa,” from 10 a.m. to noon at Pizza Capri, 1501 E. 53rd St. Kids and parents are invited to hang out with Mr. Claus himself during the brunch, which is part of the new Celebrate Hyde Park Festival of Lights event.

Merchants along 53rd Street will display holiday lights in their windows as part of the festivities. From noon – 5 p.m. the fun continues in Nichols Park, with face painting, story telling, arts and crafts—including an opportunity to create get-well and holiday cards for young patients at Comer Children’s Hospital and La Rabida Children’s Hospital.

If you love to sing, around 4:30 p.m. you can join carolers who will make their way from Nichols Park to 1530 E. 53rd St. (the former site of Hollywood Video). Caroling also will take place throughout the day. Call (773) 324-6929 if you or your choir would like to sing.

Last but not least, around 5:30 p.m. hot cocoa, coffee and cookies will be served following the sing-a-long, for a small donation or a non-perishable food item to benefit the Hyde Park Union Church food pantry.

Hope to see you there!