Tree lighting ceremony marks renewal in Washington Park


The Washington Park Chamber of Commerce (WPCC) will host its first official Washington Park Tree Lighting Ceremony on Sunday, December 6, 2020 from 4:45 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.  This safe, socially distanced event for Washington Park residents and community partners will not only usher in the holiday season – it will serve as a symbol of how far the community has come.

WPCC and the Washington Park Neighborhood Watch Group, a chamber initiative, have been working together consistently this year to improve the community. When street signs were faded, manholes needed cleaning, and when an abandoned lot filled with overgrown weeds and trees needed to be cleared out, the Watch Group and WPCC took photos and sent them to elected officials. As a result of their efforts, the City responded. All of the issues were resolved, including the lot, which was cleared out by Operation Clean and Green.

In 2019, the community attempted to hold its first tree lighting ceremony. Unfortunately, the tree they erected was mowed down before the ceremony could be held.

“Needless to say, we were devastated. This year we came back strong and we appreciate all the help, donations and support from our business and community partners. COVID will not put a damper on our spirits in the Washington Park Community. This event is just what the doctor ordered,” said Donna Hampton-Smith, CEO of the Washington Park Chamber of Commerce. “We don’t know if the tree was knocked down accidentally or on purpose, but this year we have a larger, more beautiful tree.”

Community member and Washington Park Neighborhood Watch Group member Mary Sillah added, “I’m so glad I joined the WPNWG. Our members have been working with the WPCC and we’ve consistently seen improvements in our community. There has been an increase in city services and community support for our residents. With the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have been drastically changed this year. Knowing that so many people cared about my community enough to bring some Christmas cheer makes me feel like we do matter. Our quality of life in Washington Park is improving and I’m looking forward to what the new year will bring.”

Community sponsors include Grand Blvd. Plaza, Matanky Realty, Middleton Realty Group, My Block My Hood My City, Park Apartments, Tim and Everett Rand, SECC (South East Chicago Commission), University of Chicago – Office of Civic Engagement, Washington Park Neighborhood Watch Group, Xpress Car Wash and Christ Unity Evangelistic Church.  Elected officials who supported the effort include 20th Ward Alderwoman Jeanette Taylor; Illinois State Senator, 3rd Senate District Mattie Hunter; Illinois State Representative, 5th Legislative District, Lamont Robinson; Cook County Board Commissioner, 3rd District Bill Lowry; and Cook County Board Commissioner, 2nd District Dennis Deer.

For more information, contact Jackie Smith at email or (773) 450-8474.

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