Something magical happens every other Sunday, during the summer, in Ward 7’s Marvin Gaye Park…SOULAR SUNDAY. In April 2014, after 21 year old Hubert Hunter was gunned down in broad daylight at the park’s entrance on Division Avenue, concerned neighbors, Christine Rhone and Maceo Thomas knew something had to happen to address the violence and highlight the magic they knew existed in the neighborhood they loved. They decided that the best thing they could do was encourage their neighbors not to avoid this troubled city park but to occupy the space with them and so, on June 8, 2014, SOULAR SUNDAY was born.
Rhone & Thomas used their neighborhood and social media connections to encourage people to “bring your lawn chairs, picnic baskets, and newspapers and just come chill with us” and over 100 people showed up. Jamil Hamilton, popularly known as DJ Jahsonic and a lifelong resident of Ward 7, offered his music skills for free as did neighborhood face-painters, hula-hoopers, double-dutch teams, and more. Realizing there was the potential to showcase even more neighborhood talent, Rhone reached out to local artisans, artists, and chefs and got permission to have them set up a “Sunday sidewalk market” which added to the vibrancy of the first event. By summer’s end, everyone wanted to know whether SOULAR SUNDAY would be back in 2015. In 2015, SOULAR SUNDAY was back!
Still using their own funds and hard work, Rhone and Thomas launched the new season with an official logo, free food, more vendors, and more DJs. The duo acquired all permits, provided restroom facilities, manned the grill, managed the vendors, ran the social media efforts, booked the DJs, cleaned the park, maintained community outreach, worked with Metropolitan Police Department, and so much more, that went into providing the amazing experience that was SOULAR SUNDAY 2015. Again, everyone wanted to know if SOULAR SUNDAY would be back the next year.
SOULAR SUNDAY will return in 2016 even bigger and better.
Funded by Washington, DC (May 2016)