The Southend Neighborhood Block Party and Reunion was a big success, hosted by neighbors on Dodge Street (from Pine to Walnut) in Kent on July 28.
Several activities, events, entertainment, grilled hot dogs, hamburgers, fried fish were available for free. There was a youth basketball tournament, a cake walk, and line dancing down the street "Soul Train style," featuring neighborhood mother (87 years young) Mrs. Flora Mae Peoples.
Children’s activities included kick ball and making pot holders (even Kent’s First Lady, Sue Fiala, joined in making a pot holder). There were also several other old-school activities.
Face Painting was performed by LaTesha Dukes. Gifts including stuffed animals were donated by a host of friends.
Members of the Kent Fire Department brought their truck and kids had a ball taking a tour. The firemen also enjoyed the fried fish. Members of the Kent Police Department were on hand also and participated in some of the games, especially corn hole toss with the youth and of course they had their share of fish, too.
Mayor Jerry Fiala and Councilmen Robin G. Turner and Roger Sidoti stopped by to greet those attending as well as Kent City School Board Member Dr. Marlene Dorsey and her husband Dr. Francis E. Dorsey. Portage County Auditor Janet Esposito stopped in to greet them, also.
Music was provided by DJ Lavelle Frost. Folks had a ball line dancing and just listening to a venue of blues, jazz, rap, etc. An old neighborhood tradition was brought back when John and Janie Browder made homemade ice cream. Carmen Douglas did a great job, because it was ALL consumed in minutes.
About 200 people attended, many bringing their lawn chairs and coolers, enjoying the reunion activities and reminiscing about the roots and history of this multi-cultural community.
Southend residents’ ancestors (Italians, African-American, Germans and Polish) migrated from the various regions of the United States to take advantage of economic opportunities of Kent’s booming railroad industry in the late 1800s early 1900s. Roger Di Paolo, Kent’s local historian, was in attendance and said he was proud of his South End roots.
Thanks was extended to all who donated time, food, water, pop, gifts, paper products, etc.
"We passed the neighborhood legacy on to the kids, that’s why we, the committee members of the 2018 Southend Neighborhood Block Party, hosted this event," said Doria Daniels.