Business district will host the colorful community-wide event on July 14
By Monica Garske | SDUN Reporter
Thanks to ongoing efforts by the South Park Business Group (SPBG), the streets of South Park will be buzzing with activity on July 14, when the community hosts their Summer Walkabout. The SPBG organizes the seasonal events, held multiple times throughout the year from 6 to 10 p.m. on selected Saturdays.
Marsha Smelkinson of the SPBG said the evening festival is meant to highlight the unique shops, art galleries and restaurants bordered by Beech and Kalmia streets between 30th and Fern streets in the South Park neighborhood.
Dozens of South Park business owners take part in the community events, offering specials and activities throughout the evening to visitors strolling around the neighborhood.
“We offer guests a free walking tour of the neighborhood starting at 6:30 p.m. It departs from the information kiosk on Juniper Street. There is also a free trolley service circulating into South Park,” Smelkinson said.
The theme for this month’s walkabout is “Summer of Love,” and Smelkinson said many of the business owners participating in the festival plan to dress up in 1960s hippie costumes to “spread the love.” Attendees are welcome to dress up, too.
Smelkinson said a highlight of the event will be the second Beech Street BBQ, a casual curbside barbecue co-hosted by Hamilton’s Tavern, Alchemy Restaurant and Grant’s Marketplace. The outdoor grilling area was a huge success at the Spring Walkabout in March, Smelkinson said, so the organization decided to bring it back for a second round.
South Park business owner Karen Blair, who co-owns Hamilton’s Tavern on 30th Street with her husband, said she is helping to host the Beech Street BBQ because they are happy to be a part of the neighborhood. “The barbecue is a great way for us to get involved in the walkabout,” Blair said. “We sold out of food in less than two hours at the Spring Walkabout, but this time we’re prepared with lots of extra food.”
Blair said her restaurant will grill homemade “Hops Sausage” and pulled-pork sliders street side while mingling with neighbors and celebrating the South Park community.
Likening the walkabouts to a neighborhood “block party,” Blair said the festival gives people a chance to truly explore South Park.
“You might end up walking in a new direction you’ve never walked before and discover a really cool shop or restaurant you never knew was there,” she said.
A new hair salon on Beech Street, Oliver’s Hair Design, will add to the party by hosting a live reggae band as well as an art show, while Baby Garten Studio on Fern Street plans to host free classes and activities for children throughout the evening.
“Most people think of South Park as a very cool, hip neighborhood, but we’re also a very family-friendly community,” Smelkinson said. “These Walkabouts really bring everyone together.”
Melanie Michaud, who owns Graffiti Beach on Fern Street that specializes in products created by emerging local designers and artists, said she hopes attendees stop by her shop once again.
Michaud opened her boutique on March 24 – the exact day of the Spring Walkabout – and said it was the busiest day she has had thus far as a business owner.
“We had more than 500 people walk through our space last time. It was amazing. As a new business owner, I really love the community vibe of this event and the fact that it gets people in the door,” Michaud said.
Though she is relatively new to the South Park business district, Michaud is already contributing: Smelkinson credits Michaud for coming up with the “Summer of Love” theme.
“I was inspired by the loose-fitting, hippie-style merchandise we’ve been selling lately,” Michaud said. “As part of the theme, we’ll have an artist from New York in the store that night, hand painting long boards and skateboards and another artist from Orange County selling prints, candles and knick-knacks that go with the whole Summer of Love theme.”
For more information about the South Park Summer Walkabout, visit southparkscene.com or call 619-200-4269.