The American Tennis Association and First annual Midtown Summerfest
The 1st Annual Midtown Summerfest featured local entertainment artist and signaled a rejuvenation of the cultural and business community along the Sistrunk Corridor.
City of Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Bobby Dubose (l) welcomes David Dinkins, the first and only African American mayor of New York City. The former mayor is credited for his leadership role during a time when the U.S. Open experienced tremendous growth.
Children enjoy having their face painted at the Kid’s Zone.
By Charles Moseley
The summer of 2012 will be remembered for two major African American historical events which were held in the City of Fort Lauderdale. Those events include the 95th American Tennis Association, Inc. (ATA) Championships and the First annual Midtown Summerfest, both of which focused on the cultural aspects and athletic achievement by African Americans and marks sign of things to come in the City of Fort Lauderdale. These events also drew national attention to the city as a place where African American tourists are welcome.
The ATA is the oldest African American sports organization in the country.
This year marked the 95th ATA National Championships and the second time in 15 years that the ATA event was held in Fort Lauderdale. It also marked the 50th Year Anniversary of the late African American tennis legend Arthur Ashe winning his last ATA Men’s Open. Thousands of families looked on as players from age eight to 80 competed for their place on the court and in the continuing history of the ATA.
Not only did the six day event attract some 3000 participants, it also made a tremendous economic impact on the local economy according to local tourism official Albert Tucker, vice president of Multi-Cultural Business Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau. Tucker has led the effort to make the City of Fort Lauderdale the permanent home of the ATA in recent years.
“I thought it would be good for the ATA to return to Fort Lauderdale so that we can elevate the state of Black tennis and we can have another economic engine in Fort Lauderdale. The key accomplishments were that we were able to infuse a tourism project into the Sistrunk corridor and gain national awareness of the community and the program. Based upon hotel room nights, car rentals, restaurant expenditures, national exposure and general shopping the economic impact was estimated at approximately $2.3 million”, said Albert Tucker.
This year, to add to the success of the ATA National Championships, the City of Fort Lauderdale partnered with the CVB and the Midtown Arts & Business Center to create The Midtown Summerfest. In addition to bringing pride to the community, the Midtown Summerfest highlighted the historic Black Sistrunk Corridor.
Summerfest took place on Aug. 1, 2012 along the City’s historic African American neighborhood most recently know as the Midtown District, along Sistrunk Boulevard. It offered something for the entire family and included a Kid’s Zone complete with a bounce house, face painting, and karaoke.
The main stage featured some of South Florida’s leading entertainers including Ol’ Skool Gang, Ruby Baker, Al Wilcox and The B.B. King All-Star Band.
“Having the ATA return to Fort Lauderdale after approximately 15 years has tremendous meaning to the entire Fort Lauderdale community. It shows that we have matured as a City and that we offer world-renown facilities that can accommodate over 3000 tennis enthusiasts.
The fact that ATA coincided with the 1st Annual Midtown Summerfest was truly a marriage made in heaven. Summerfest showcased the beautiful and newly revitalized Historic Sistrunk Boulevard and it brought our visitors together with our neighbors here in the City of Fort Lauderdale. The two events together created such a positive synergy throughout the City because both were inclusive and com-munity building by design,” said City of Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dubose.
Over the last several years the City of Fort Lauderdale has poured a great deal of money and effort into the revitalization of the predominantly African American community along Sis-trunk Boulevard which once bolstered a number of African American owned and operated businesses in the community. The City’s Community Rein-vestment Agency has partnered with Black owned businesses in an effort to generate economic development along Sistrunk Boulevard.
The long term plan by the city is to bring the northwest quadrant of the city on par with some of its more vibrant communities. Al Battle is the Executive Director of the City’s CRA. He has been one of the strongest advocates for economic development along Sistrunk Boulevard and an ally of Black economic development in Fort Lauderdale.
“The impact that the ATA and Summerfest had on the Fort Lauderdale community as a whole was tremendous and almost immeasurable. It shone a bright light on all of the positive things that are occurring in the Northwest and especially along the Sistrunk Corridor. But the two events also brought the entire Fort Lauderdale community together for the love of tennis and the love of good music, art and culture.
Fort Lauderdale’s landscape is ever evolving and having world-class events that showcase the positive growth and development will only encourage more people to move here, work here, and visit here of course both the ATA and Summerfest events had an enormous impact on the entire Northwest Progresso Flagler Heights CRA – particularly the Sistrunk Corridor.
Throughout the night of Summerfest, people were over-heard saying – “We used to have things like this on Sistrunk” or “I’m so glad we’re doing this on Sistrunk!”
One of the primary goals of the Sistrunk Infrastructure Project was to restore and beautify. Restore an area to what it once was and create an atmosphere that is conducive to economic growth, development and community events that engage and encourage all of Fort Lauderdale to visit the Northwest and the Sistrunk Corridor. Sistrunk is a part of Fort Lauderdale’s ever evolving landscape, so there are many new adventures still to come for the area. My advice would be to stay tuned, “said Battle.
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