South East Chicago Commission may reconsider Celebrate Hyde Park

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

The South East Chicago Commission (SECC) is in the early stages of reviewing its programming, a process whose impact on the annual Celebrate Hyde Park festivals remains unclear.

In 2010, the SECC, University of Chicago Office of Civic Engagement and Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce began co-sponsoring Celebrate Hyde Park, an annual series of seasonal programming including a winter Festival of Lights, fall Oktoberfest and summer street festival. The summer festival attracted around 30,000 last year, and has featured such musical acts as War and The Family Stone.

But according to Hyde Parker K.B. Jensen, after asking someone involved in organizing the events about being a vendor at this year’s summer festival, she was told Celebrate Hyde Park would not be taking place.

“I was looking into being a vendor there,” Jensen said. “And I was inquiring about a booth and they said it wasn’t going to happen this year.”

Asked whether Celebrate Hyde Park was ending, SECC Executive Director Wendy Walker Williams said in an e-mail, “The SECC is in the early stages of reviewing the way we organize and support events designed to increase vibrancy, foot traffic and tourism within our footprint.

“Building on [Celebrate Hyde Park’s] success, we are now shifting our focus to ways to promote year round events in ALL of the SECC Communities,” she continued, adding that “The SECC looks forward to revealing a new brand and sharing more information with residents in each of our neighborhoods once our plans are final.”

But when asked whether “revealing a new brand” would mean the ending of Celebrate Hyde Park in its three-part form, she only reiterated that the SECC was reviewing its programming and that more information would be available once plans were final.

E-mail: j.bishku@hpherald.com

Twitter: @jeffhba