Block party in SF's Tenderloin becomes oasis for children as city battles drug epidemic on streets

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Monday, June 24, 2024
Sunday Streets: SF Tenderloin block party becomes oasis for families
There are more than 3,000 children living in the Tenderloin, which is more than any other San Francisco neighborhood. On Sunday, a block party gave hope to many families with kids in the form of live music, food trucks and entertainment.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In San Francisco a block party in the Tenderloin is giving hope to many families with kids.

Live music, food trucks and entertainment are the oasis many families in San Francisco's Tenderloin have been waiting for.

"I feel like it really is needed. It really shows how the Tenderloin is changing," said Henresha Spencer, a Tenderloin resident.

Spencer and her four kids left their home and followed the music to Golden Gate Avenue.

"What do you think of this happening here? It's really cool I like it. My sisters are having fun so I'm having fun too," said Isis Spencer, a 9-year-old Tenderloin resident.

There are more than 3,000 children living in the Tenderloin, which is more than any other San Francisco neighborhood.

This neighborhood party is an event by Sunday Streets SF, a program by the nonprofit Livable City. They have been doing block parties in different neighborhoods for years. This is the first one of the summer series.

"The next one is going to be in Excelsior on July 21st that one is going to be about one mile long in length and we have five more events that we are doing," said Jessica Tovar with Sunday Streets Program.

St. Anthony's Foundation sponsored the block party at their Golden Gate Greenway a project aiming to permanently close the 100 block of Golden Gate Avenue for events like this.

"The vision of the Golden Gate Greenway that is shared by all nine nonprofit partners on the street with St. Anthony's leading is what would it look like if every day could be like Sunday Streets. A closed walk where people from the community can come out and really claim it as their own," said Geoffrey McFarland, St. Anthony's Community engagement manager.

The nonprofit Circus Center was one of the local vendors hoping to inspire local children.

"You have to get outside of your environment to be able to see things and expand your horizons. In circus you bring it into that environment," said Jamarr Woodruff, Community Engagement Director at SF Circus Center.

In the surrounding areas people are doing and selling drugs, a reality that is not only affecting families but businesses. Recently city supervisors gave initial approval to a store curfew during overnight hours to fight drug sales. On Tuesday, the Board is set to meet again to discuss this curfew.

"While we are working on solutions the Tenderloin deserves everything that everybody else gets. We deserve festivals, block parties, children's being pushed in strollers," said Rene Colorado, Executive Director for the Tenderloin Merchants Association.

In the meantime, parents like Spencer want more block parties for children and residents.

"I hope they keep this going every year," said Spencer.

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