Embracing diversity through art, culture and entertainment
Embracing diversity through art, culture and entertainment
Midtown Summerfest returns to Historic Sistrunk Boulevard
From Petula Burks, Public Affairs Officer, City of Fort Lauderdale
As the center of commerce, tourism and culture in Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale has taken center stage as a city of diversity and inclusiveness. With over 180,000 residents and over 10 million visitors each year hailing from around the world, Fort Lauderdale is the largest of Broward County’s 30 municipalities and the seventh largest city in Florida.
With an ever-changing demographic, the City has risen to the occasion and brought to life numerous events, community-building projects and outreach to ensure that residents and visitors feel a part of the community-at-large.
The City has just completed a monumental infrastructure project in the Northwest area that is home to the city’s largest African-American population.
The Sistrunk Boulevard Infrastructure Project infused more than $15 million into the community and has created a new look for the area. The project included on-street parking, wider sidewalks, decorative streetlights, median and landscape enhancements, new bus shelters, and in some areas the undergrounding of power lines.
Before, during and after the infrastructure project, Sistrunk Boulevard has been and will continue to be a Mecca for cultural enrichment, historic events and community-building activities such as: Historic Sistrunk Parade and Festival; Light Up Sistrunk; Midtown Summerfest on Historic Sistrunk Boulevard; Martin Luther King Parade and Non-Violence Rally; Dillard Homecoming Parade; District III Commissioner Bobby B. DuBose Crime Walk – Walk As One, A Community Moving Forward; Dorsey Riverbend Crime Walk
The Northwest-Progresso-Flagler Village Community Redevelopment Agency (NWPF CRA) has been hands on in the community from its inception. Apart from leading the Sistrunk Boulevard Infrastructure Project, the NWPF CRA found its niche in assisting business development along with its mission of revitalization. Realizing that the revitalization of the area could not occur without sound businesses, either national chains or locally owned, the NWPF CRA set out to educate and support. Developing numerous programs that entrepreneurs as well as established businesses can take advantage of was the goal and to that end, a business platform has been established.
• Free Business Seminars & Small Business Expo
The business seminars and expos offer businesses throughout Fort Lauderdale a learning opportunity on general business practices and trends, while providing a forum to network with other business owners and leaders in their respective fields.
• BizSmart Program
BIZSmart is an initiative developed to promote outreach and educate the business, development and contractor community as well as commercial leaders within the City on current procedural and regulatory trends and changes through the “BIZSmart HOW TO Series.”
• Small Business Plan Development Initiative
For many small businesses, the creation of a professionally developed business plan is simply out of reach. The NWPF CRA has partnered with the Department of Commerce to provide assistance through the Minority Business Development Corporation to assist business owners write professionally developed business plans.
• Business Marketing and Promotion
To assist with increasing foot traffic to a particular business in need, NWPF funds are routinely spent on basic items such as flyers, tri-fold brochures, retail circulars and event promotion materials to help market the businesses in the redevelopment area.
Understanding business is just one of the many avenues that promotes and improves diversity and inclusion, the NWPF CRA, along with community leaders and community investors assisted with the development of the first grocery store the Northwest Area. The area was commonly referred to as a food desert, due to the fact that Northwest Fort Lauderdale residents did not have immediate access to healthy food choices or nationally-recognized franchises.
With the opening of the Shoppes on Arts Avenue, which currently is home to Save-A-Lot grocery store, Family Dollar and Bank of America, these residents now have the opportunity to shop and bank in their own backyard. Moreover, this new center of commerce allows for residents who might not otherwise stop in the area to have a destination in the Northwest. Having this new development come to fruition realizes a dream that many thought they would never achieve.
Sistrunk Boulevard is in the heart of the Northwest Progresso Flagler Heights CRA (NWPF CRA). The mission of the NWPF CRA is to revitalize and rebuild, restore and renew, and reconnect the present and future to the past.
Known for art, music and culture, Sistrunk Boulevard and the Northwest was home to Cannonball Adderley, the Victory Theater, and the Windsor Club where artists like Duke Ellington and Ray Charles performed. Today art lovers can visit the newly opened Midtown Commerce Center for regular art shows by local artists. For history buffs, the Eula Johnson House Welcome Center and NAACP Headquarters houses much of Fort Lauderdale Civil Rights history and the African American Research Library covers both art and history.
Sistrunk Boulevard is definitely back and better than ever. This is the place for opportunity – opportunity for an area that once housed doctor’s offices, and law firms and restaurants and jazz clubs returning to the place where people can again live, eat, work and play without having to travel far distances. This is the place for opportunity – opportunity for the up and coming businessman/developer to bring ideas to the table about new sustainable, economic development projects for the area. This is the place for opportunity for the young college student to be able to return home and work in his or her community because a place for positive growth and development has been created.
With the community and the City of Fort Lauderdale working together, Sistrunk Boulevard can take its rightful place as a destination because of its top of the line, second to none venues and events. Residents and visitors from around the country, state and neighboring counties can join the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau and Dickey Consulting Services for the Second Annual MidTown Summerfest on Historic Sistrunk Boulevard.
The 2ND Annual MidTown Summerfest Event, with headliner act Howard Hewett, takes place Friday, August 2 from 4 to 1 p.m., on Sistrunk Boulevard between NW 9th Avenue and NW 12th Avenue.
MidTown SummerfestT is the culmination of a week of tennis presented by the American Tennis Association and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau. Over 2000 tennis aficionados will take Friday night to relax and enjoy music, food, merchandise vendors, a Caribbean zone and sorority and fraternity row with residents and our friends and neighbors from all over South Florida.
According to one Rolling Stone writer, Howard Hewett is the premier vocalist in the post – Marvin Gaye era of romantic pop.
At 4 p.m., The Woods Gospel Quartet opens the main stage. The Woods are brothers, Laverne, Sherman, Darin, and Anthony Pitts hailing from Hollywood, Florida, The Woods Gospel Quartet brings you gospel music with passion and earnest love for their heavenly father.
At 5 p.m., Jordan Grizzle the talented Fort Lauderdale native heats up the main stage with a performance likened to that of Usher. Natural talents like Jordan Grizzle’s come just once or twice in a generation. At only 16-years-old, this singing, dancing dynamo is reminiscent of fabled kid prodigies Michael Jackson and Chris Brown.
At 6:30 p.m., Nikki Kidd, takes us to another place and time with a little jazz. Nikki Kidd has been singing since the age of four. Born and raised in Miami Beach Florida with Jamaican heritage, she started performing in Church and School. By High School her talents and passion for music and performing were developing even more.
At 7:30 p.m., the Ol Skool Gang brings back R & B and soulful sounds. The Old Skool Gang performs Motown’s greatest hits. Their repertoire includes songs from The Temptations, The Ojays, Harold Melvin and The Bluenotes, Teddy Pendergrass, Smokey Robinson and The Miracles, The Spinners, The Manhattans, Al Green, The Impressions, Levert and many more. “OSG” is the brainchild of Entertainment Executive, and former KC and the Sunshine Band Member, “Paul Lewis”.
At 9:30 p.m., Howard Hewett brings his talent to Sistrunk! Raised in Akron, Ohio, Hewett moved to Los Angeles in 1976, where he met John and Alonzo Daniels, owners of an historical club in the LA Crenshaw district, called Maverick’s Flat. It was at Maverick’s that Hewett first met Jeffrey Daniel and Jody Watley (eventually Shalamar). Hewett and the Daniels brothers formed a show group called “Beverly Hills” and through Daniels bookings toured throughout Europe, the UK, Scandinavia and Asia for all of 1978 till the middle of 1979.
Thank you to our 2013 sponsors: City of Fort Lauderdale CRA, Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB, The Carlisle Group, Dickey Consulting Services, Downtown Development Authority of Fort Lauderdale, Diversified Realty Development Company, Our Community Apartments, Alan Levy, Third Step, 2013 Media Partners: HOT 105, 99 JAMZ, WSUI Online, South Florida Times and The Westside Gazette Newspaper.