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Peavey Park Celebration – September 14, 2013

By Robert Albee

Ventura Village and Phillips West neighborhoods joined forces for the third year to celebrate the end of the summer season with a gathering at Peavey Park.

Activities included musical entertainment, inflatables for children and games for youth, community outreach tables and a shared meal provided by Adult and Teen Challenge. St. Mary’s University passed out root beer floats, political candidates mingled, and Mickey Mouse was on hand to give out free hugs!

This year’s performers were the Adult and Teen Challenge Choir, followed by West African music by Soukasize, East African dejay offerings by Abdihakan Farah and Mohamed Haji. You Only Live Once, better known as YOLO finished off the afternoon performing pop and country favorites as sprinkles began to arrive before needed rain showers later in the day.

Although the attendance was slightly down–perhaps for fear of the coming rains–the attendance by Somali young people and elders was up considerably. During the musical stage presentations, attendees were spontaneously entertained by a updated, joyful age-old village dance by youth honoring a Somali elder in his wheel chair that began with a song by world renowned Somali hip-hop artist known as Kanaan.

These end of season events were originally created at the behest of then Third Precinct Inspector Lucy Gerold, who then stated that the police were at the edge of effectiveness in stemming criminal activity at Peavey. Having the distinction as the most “crime-ridden” park in Minnesota was not thrilling to residents in Ventura Village who had hear that story for more than twenty-five years.

Inspector Gerold simply asked all the residents to dream up positive activities in the park to replace drug dealing and predators from holding daily court as their “territory”. Church groups and no-profit organizations joined together and created activities ranging from movie nights to Amen Corner. These smaller weekly activities culminated in the Peavey Park Celebrations. Plans are already underway for next year’s event. Those interested in joining the planning or making suggestions are invited to contact Ventura Village’s Mary Watson at 612-871-7973.

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