Thursday, August 28, 2014

24 Aug 13

It's a family affair, blogspot readers, at this recent community outing at the lakefront on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon. SouthSide was cordially invited to by Alderman Joseph Moore to help celebrate the upcoming school year with many of the other residents and families at the annual Back To School Family Picnic held at Loyola Park. And what a community event this was, blogspot readers! There was food, entertainment, (free) dental screenings, hair styling and manicures, face painting and so much more to see and do while socializing with your neighbors. Yet it was more than being about obtaining free school supplies was about motivating as well as inspiring kids to do their best when school begins again. It was also about helping parents to be advocates for their children in and out of the classroom get them more involved with their respective schools all year long.

The event opened with a few remarks by Jesse White (top left photo) who told the crowd about the success he's had with his tumbling team before long-time resident of the 49th Ward and County Clerk David Orr (top right photo) spoke. Then IL State Senator Heather Steans (top photo on right) encouraged the kids to "...stay in school and work hard..." After thanking the crowd for attending, Alderman Moore (bottom photo on right) officially began the family event, blogspot readers. When SouthSide later spoke with IL State Senator Steans,  she also added that this event "...keeps growing every year..." with a new addition to this year's picnic - dental screenings by Bright Smiles & Bright Future. She even told this reviewer that when Alderman Moore started the Back To School Family Picnic only 100 people attended and they were only rained out once estimating approximately 1,000 were in attendance today despite the steamy temperatures. That she credits "...someone [from above] smiling on us..." After acting on her suggestion, SouthSide then spoke with organizer of this community event, Wayne Frazier (left side photo), for his comments about the day. He told her "'s one of the largest events of the year ...and it keeps growing..." The purpose of the Back To School Family Picnic is to "...encourage parents and kids to stay in school..." by trying to give them as much as support for a successful first day. The organizers of this event understand that many parents are on a tight budget and don't have the necessary money for school supplies. So this event tries to help with pens, pencils, paper, etc for that first day, blogspot readers.

It was more than about getting free school supplies to start the year off on a good step, blogspot readers. It was also about looking stylish too. There was a tent where parents and children stood in line for free hair cuts and styles and for the young ladies - manicures and polished nails. Meanwhile from a short distance away, you could get face painting and/or temporary tattoos. From the City Clerk Susana Mendoza's office, parents could sign up and obtain Kids ID ...or grab a few books or receive vital information from Cook County Clerk of  the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown's table. Also in this general area, there was booth dedicated to Desiree Lomax ( and Kathyleen Brooks(  of Legal Shield (bottom left photo). This legal service is designed to protect you and your family with affordable consultations and legal services that include personal documentation review, will preparation, traffic violations, and/or uncontested divorce, separation and child support and so much more. It also identity theft plans and help for small businesses too, blogspot readers. For more general information about LegalShield, visit the main site at  Colgate and Bright Smiles/Bright Future (top left photo) had a van set up for free dental screenings for all the kids in attendance.
This afternoon's entertainment was provided by one of seven from the Jesse White Tumbling team and dance selections from the Joe Hall Dancers, blogspot readers. The Jesse White Tumbling Team has been a local attraction for over 54 years since its creation back in 1959 ...which is designed to "...provide a positive alternative for inner-city kids..." In order to be a member of this team that consists of over 325 male and female members, you have to say "no" and stay away from gangs, alcohol, drugs, and stay in school maintaining at least a "C" average.  If the team member falls below the "C" average, there's tutoring assistance and/or he/she must show they're in a tutoring program. The teams perform nearly 1,500 performances each year from sporting events to community, business, charity functions as well as travel all over the world including places like Tokyo, Japan and Zagreb, Croatia. And today this particular team, blogspot readers, demonstrated some amazingly fantastical feats of acrobatic tumbling that sometimes took the tumbler very high into the air. This is no exaggeration either. They flipped over each other ...over banners ...bounced off a mini spring to elevate their flips even higher which always delights crowds wherever they go, blogspot readers.  For more information, visit The purpose of Joe Hall Dance Center is to "...bring dancing to all people..." and it features classes from ballet, tap to theatre dance and more for students of all ages starting at 2 years old. Their presentation began with a solo by Melissa Johnson before a duet did a mix of modern and ballet to "Summertime" with closing solo to "Grandma Hands". For more information about dances classes, visit The dancing didn't end there, blogspot readers. It was also time for the residents of the 49th Ward to show off their dance moves to the DJ selections, They were wobblin', slidin'  and more in front of the stage in between the calling out raffle prizes.

During her time at the Back To School Family Picnic, blogspot readers, SouthSide had a chance to meet some of the residents who live within this diverse neighborhood for their thoughts about today's event. Coyt Riddle (side top photo) told this reviewer that he was enjoying it "...tremendously with the whole family..." with his daughter, son, future daughter-in-law and grandkids while also stating that it was real nice "...peaceful and enjoyable for all kids..." Meanwhile, mom Latricia said she enjoyed it as well with her friends and that her son was excited about starting Pre-K this year. The Hurn family (side bottom photo) also told SouthSide the same thing before Dad showed off a few of his flipping moves. Believe it or not, blogspot readers, the line for picnic lunch was continuously growing despite showing no signs of if ever shortening either! And you may not believe this either, but Alderman Moore (under an umbrella) stood there and shook every person's hand until it was over. As you can see, he's very dedicated to his 49th Ward residents ...standing there amidst the steamy temps to greet and pass out free museum passes (one per family) to all who attended this community event.

SouthSide would like to thank Alderman Joseph Moore and his staff for the invite. She had a fun time hanging out with them by the lakefront...

Until next time, support your local scene,

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