Block party draws huge crowd

By Denise Jackson

July 12, 2012 Updated Jul 12, 2012 at 10:17 PM CDT

PEORIA,Ill --Thursday's heat did not stop folks from attending two huge block parties in Peoria one at Harrison Homes and the other on the East Bluff. The events brought several residents and service providers together.

This block party next to Harrison Learning Center is the first of what could be several events to bring South Side residents together on a revitalization plan for their community.

"We're doing everything we can to change the image of the South Side. We don't want to hear negative things about the South Side. If you see something negative about the South Side go fix it," said Martin Warren Neighborhood Association President Lorraine B. Carter.

They're lots of support, three million dollars from the Caterpillar Foundation and assistance from the New York based Local Initiatives Support Corporation, also called LISC. LISC President and C.E.O. Michael Rubinger was in Peoria for the block party. He says the organization has invested in over 10 billion dollars in community revitalization around the country.

"That money has produced close to 300 thousand affordable homes, apartments, its produced supermarkets, schools, shopping centers, health clinics, recreational facilities," he said.

A volunteer for one local recreational facility says the event is a good way to bring diverse groups together.

"The block party is wonderful and the work that LISC is going to be doing for the city of Peoria and the community is just remarkable," said former District 150 Superintendent Ken Hinton.

Olde Towne South Neighborhood Association President LaVetta Ricca says she's excited about the rebirth taking place

"These children that are living in all these crumbling neighborhood soon I hope will be able to stand here behind the microphone and tell us the South side is the most wonderful place in the world to grow up in," said Olde Towne South Neighborhood Association President LaVetta Ricca.

The next step will be hiring an executive director and opening an office. After that the hard work begins.

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