On Saturday September 9, residents of Ward 7 got together to celebrate business and community in their neighborhoods at the Ward 7 Day Community Festival, which took place at Parks & People’s Riverside Healthy Living Center (5200 Foot St. NE).
Presented by Councilmember Vincent Gray (Ward 7-D), Deputy Mayor for Greater Economic Opportunity Courtney Snowdon, the Ward 7 Business Partnership, Washington Parks, Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District, the East River Family Strengthening Collaborative and others, the festival built on roots as a street fair and cultural tour. The annual festival has evolved into a showcase of business, arts, culture and fun in Ward 7.
At the festival, residents took the opportunity to reunite with friends and meet new ones. There were family-friendly activities, including moon bounces, bicycle riding with DC Parks and Recreation, balloon-animals from Youthful Diversions and bingo in the Riverside Recreation Center. The Office of Councilmember Vincent Gray handed out more than 300 backpacks to children for back-to-school. The Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) and PEPCO also handed out bags to store the many giveaways available throughout the festival.
MPD’s Sixth District provided bottled water, apples, oranges and granola bars. Sporting a wide grin, Officer Jason Medina barbequed hot dogs under the careful supervision of Officers J.B. Barney and J. Kellman. The officers said that they were enjoying the day and the community festivities.
There were live performances throughout the day, including the vocal stylings of Chief Weltone Bonner, dance from the Northeast Performing Arts Group and a vocal performance from 2013 Underground Music Awards “Rising Star” winning group and District residents, Main Girl.
Main Girl group members Shabreia and Jahna attended Duke Ellington High School. In 2008 they joined with Baltimore resident Deja to form the group. They are about to release a new single entitled Girl Code.
Twins Tyler and Taylor Lindsay put on a performance as Michael Jackson: The Next Generation. The two performed to Jackson’s hits, including “Billie Jean” and “Black or White,” complete with Jackson’s signature Moon Walk and other touches of showmanship, such as tossing their spangled gloves to the crowd.
When asked which were their favorite of Jackson songs, the two replied, “All.”
The twins’ mother, Eraina Lindsay, said Taylor and Tyler had been diagnosed with ADHD early in their school careers. “I was getting so many phone calls, I was at the school so often other parents thought I was a substitute teacher.”
After Jackson died in 2009, BET aired a lengthy television special. “They sat still for two and a half hours,” she said. “I knew we had something.”
The twins have had no formal dance instruction, but have performed at multiple venues, including schools and fundraisers. Their mother says that the dance has already helped them channel their energy, but she is hopeful that it will lead to more opportunity for them, and the audience at Ward 7 Day clearly agreed. As they depart the stage, a man in the audience stopped them.
“You need to go on ‘Star Search’ or something,” he says. “You two need to be discovered.”
Councilmember Gray thanked residents and businesses for being part of the festival, saving a special mention for Safeway, which had a table offering snacks to guests. Gray, who has recently increased pressure on the Safeway grocery stores in Ward 7 to improve customers’ shopping experience, complimented the work the grocers had done so far.
Of Safeway, Gray said, “they’ve waxed the floors —you can see yourself in those floors—there’s better food, more security and more checkouts.”
“Thanks for what they’ve done, but keep doing it,” Gray said.
The Councilmember said that Ward 7 days would continue to improve, and grow in size and scope, saying the goal for the future was a festival similar to the one held on H Street NE.
The festival went out on a beautiful note when Gray introduced headline performer Ayana Gregory. The Howard Alumni, activist, singer, actress and daughter of Civil Rights activist Dick Gregory closed out the set of performances with songs of original soul.