The Silver Room hosts community meeting to discuss block party plans

(Left to right) Mario Smith, Kenneth Pickett, Rob McCay, and Eric Williams, organizers of the Silver Room’s Block Party, met with interested community members to discuss plans for the party, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in the Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St. – Marc Monaghan

Staff Writer

The Silver Room hosted a community meeting Thursday, June 22, to discuss “The 14th Annual Silver Room Sound System Block Party, ” which will take place July 15.

According to the Silver Room website, the block party is an outdoor celebration of music, community, art, love and culture. Eric Williams, owner of the Silver Room, started the urban style small block parties in July of 2003 in the alley behind his store’s former location in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Since then, he has watched the event grow from extension cords connected to small speakers running through the windows of his old storefront, to a daylong event featuring food, dancing, music and other forms of entertainment.

The Block Party meeting took place at the Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St., and was moderated by Kenneth Pickett, spokesperson for the Block Party. The Block Party Committee, which includes Pickett, Williams, Block Party Host Mario Smith, and Connect Gallery Owner Rob McKay addressed questions and concerns from the community on security check points, street closures, traffic flow and entertainment scheduling.

“Our grassroots effort is the foundation of what we do,” Pickett said, about teaming up with the community and Williams to help plan the Block Party. “It’s a part of our culture that helps develop entertainment, entrepreneurship and all things that help bring people together [in the community].”

Williams said there would be several street closures for the event. On Saturday, July 15, East 53rd Street between Lake Park and Blackstone avenues will be closed from 7a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Harper Avenue between 52nd and 53rd streets (including all of Harper Court) will be closed from 7a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Restricted Parking will go into effect on Friday, July 14, from 11 p.m. to Saturday, July 15, 11:59 p.m., which will all impact traffic flow.

“Each of the intersections will be staffed,” Pickett said about street closures and traffic flow. “We want to minimize congestion and make sure that the traffic flows [smoothly] up and down Lake Park Avenue.”

Pickett said that along with staff, there will be signs to help direct traffic throughout the community on the day of the event.

When it comes to security concerns, Pickett said that it is the group’s number one priority. 

“We take our security very seriously,” Pickett said. “We have hired 25 to 40 armed security officers that were trained by former Cook County Sheriffs, who understand the footprint of Hyde Park. We will provide a security guard at each exit point in addition to a terrorism task force that will be working the event.”

In regard to the entertainment portion of the block party, Pickett said the stage setup would be similar to last year’s and will consist of a 53rd street east stage, a 53rd street west stage, a Harper Court stage and a small set up stage where all performances will take place.

“There will be no main stage,” Pickett said.

“I think it’s very important for the community to know that we have a well balanced itinerary that covers everything from Jazz to Blues, Steppers, Kid Activities, a little Hip Hop, a little Rock and Roll and a lot of House Music,” Williams said about the block party, which made its debut in Hyde Park in 2016.

Williams said the live performance line up would be announced at a later date.

There was no opposition from the community on hosting the event.