News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago

Office of Civic Engagement

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.