As the city looks forward to a future with no restrictions from the pandemic, local leaders are looking to the past to create fun community events.
The office of 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea is uniting with the Beverly Area Planning Association (BAPA) to host “Throwback Thursdays” at local parks throughout June, and the series began on June 3 with 1960s Night at Cosme Park in North Beverly.
Over 200 people attended, with the audience dancing to music and enjoying treats from neighborhood food trucks.
The event occurred the same day Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that Chicago will join the rest of Illinois in entering Phase 5 on June 11, and O’Shea said he is looking forward to the city reopening.
“As long as people continue to get vaccinated—and the majority of our community has been vaccinated—I think it’s important that we open up,” O’Shea said. “We need to support our small businesses. We need to get back to normal, the social aspect—neighbors interacting, kid seeing their friends—which is why tonight is such an uplifting thing to see.”
Other sponsors include state Sen. Bill Cunningham and state Rep. Fran Hurley, as well as the Chicago Park District, and Live and Believe (LAB), a nutrition and fitness shop in Beverly.
Attendees were encouraged to decorate bikes, wagons and strollers with bright colors, flowers and peace signs on June 3.
LAB Owner Morgan Martin led kids through dances while other families enjoyed the playground.
Calabria Imports and The Original Rainbow Cone had food trucks on-site.
“We’re trying to get families and kids out in the park,” O’Shea said, “as we get closer to normal.”
Each Throwback Thursday runs from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
On June 10, ’70s Night will be held at McKiernan Park, 10714 S. Sawyer Ave, with kids invited to decorate bikes, wagons and strollers “with your best disco look.” FitCode, of Beverly, will lead a freeze-dance game.
On June 17, there will be an ’80s theme at Barnard Park, 10431 S. Longwood Drive, with families encouraged to celebrate the Chicago Bears, especially the 1985 Super Bowl champion team.
The June 24 event will be ’90s night at Bohn Park, 1966 W. 111th St., and celebrate Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
BAPA Executive Director Mary Jo Viero was pleased with the turnout on opening night and looks forward to neighbors reuniting at parks throughout the 19th Ward.
“We just wanted to see our community in-person again and enjoy all the nice areas that we have in the neighborhood,” Viero said. “I like that we spread them out.”