This Summer, a Once-in-a-half-century Party Calls Neighbors Back to South Park
With music, food, storytelling and a beer garden, South Park’s Reunion Block Party celebrates its 40-year struggle to become safe, livable, and inviting.
DAYTON, Oh. July 7, 2022 – On Saturday, July 30, from 3-6pm, a massive meet-up of neighbors who live in South Park or have called it home over the past forty years will gather to mark the 40-year anniversary of becoming Dayton’s largest Historic District.
In 1981, South Park’s historic landmark designation gave neighbors powerful leverage to reverse blight, combat slumlords, and drive out crime. It launched South Park’s evolution from a neighborhood of last resort to a desirable place to live.
“It’s been quite a journey,” shares Mark Manovich, president of the Historic South Park neighborhood council. “When my wife Karin and I moved here in 1992, it was known to be rough. The parents of our kids’ school friends wouldn’t allow them to come here for playdates.”
But even then, Mark recalls, it was unpretentious and friendly with that “we’re all in this together” camaraderie. Many neighbors have become lifelong friends after bonding over alley sweeps, beautification projects, old-house repairs, grant-writing, crime-fighting, but most of all the parties.
“We have a reputation for our parties,” says event coordinator, Karin Manovich. “We’ve got great stories and before-and-after pictures to share at the Reunion, along with food and drink from South Park’s own establishments.” Even the sponsoring organizations were founded by South Parkers – Square One Salon & Spa, The Brightside Venue, and The Rubi Girls.
The sense of community in South Park has always been as unique as its built environment. It brings people closer. This 150-acre area south of downtown Dayton includes 800 structures, circa 1880 to 1900, designed for people from all walks of life. “There’s no other neighborhood that we know of with housing stock like this that attracts such interesting and diverse people. Tiny cottages next to big showy Victorians, corner storefronts, and everything in between,” says Karin.
As with any inner neighborhood, South Park’s work continues. But it’s time to hit pause and celebrate. Says Karin, “We want everyone to enjoy their share of credit for taking a chance, investing the sweat, money and emotion it takes to create a neighborhood that feels like family.”
HOW TO CELEBRATE: Plan to meet up with old friends and neighbors, bring a lawn chair, enjoy the party, take a stroll, and congratulate yourself for helping make South Park a place to live kindly, fearlessly, and prosperously.
Who: South Parkers past and present, and all who have contributed to the neighborhood’s recovery (City staff, contractors, Rehabarama partners, AIA architects, former Community Based Police Officers, preservationists, patrons of our tours, plays and festivals) and those interested in the neighborhood today.
What: South Park Reunion Block Party is a free event presented by the Historic South Park neighborhood council, Square One Salon & Spa, The Brightside Venue, and The Rubi Girls.
When: Saturday, July 30, 3-6pm
Where: The Gazebo and Boulevard at Park Drive (near Wayne Avenue). Park at Oak Street Health (Wayne & Wyoming), Hope Lutheran Church and Emerson Academy (both at Perrine & Hickory).